Reader Kostis spotted this topless Muni car yesterday on Church and 24th:

Incredible. When I first saw this, I thought somebody had bought an old muni cable car and transformed it into one of those cheesy open-air tourist vans. Then I noticed the pirate flags and the hanging lights and figured it was someone’s Burning man project.

And THEN I realized it was actually not a van at all, but running on the muni tracks and it was an actual muni car, stopping at stops and picking people up! Insane. If anybody’s knows if there’s a story behind this, please let me know. I love SF.

If I had to guess, the Muni is starting to do duck tours to help raise money.

Be sure to click the images for a full-size version.  Thanks Kostis / khtoo!

Update: reader Mr. Read brings us the official story in the comments.  Turns out that the “boat tram” mainly runs along the tourist path, which explains why a few people were surprised to see it.


23 Responses to “USS SF-Muni”

  1. one says:

    Duck tours? sounds like you just moved here…

  2. Mr. Read says:

    That’s the “boat tram” it was operated in Blackpool, England, and built in 1934.

    This car, No. 228, is actually the second ‘Boat Tram’ to run on Muni’s tracks. An identical ex–Blackpool tram was leased from the Western Railway Museum in Rio Vista Junction. It was so popular, Trolley Festival project manager Rick Laubscher got an unused Boat donated by Blackpool Transport, with his then–employer, Bechtel, covering the cost of shipping.

    This car is a tremendous public relations vehicle for Muni, as it demonstrates a sense of whimsy while celebrating San Francisco’s maritime heritage and providing popular transit service to Fisherman’s Wharf, all in one package. All aboard!

    1934—Built in England for Blackpool Tramways. Entered seasonal service on that resort’s seacoast line to Fleetwood and other lines.

    1976—Loaned to Philadelphia, regauged and repainted for special service during the US Bicentennial (see picture at right).

    1984—Acquired as gift to Muni, repainted from Philadelphia livery into original Blackpool green and cream, and restored to standard gauge by Muni crafts workers. Entered service during second Trolley Festival, replacing leased museum car of same type.

    1985-87—Operated very successfully in final three Trolley Festivals.

    1995—Begins serving F-Market line, built as result of successful Trolley Festivals.

    2000—Begins serving F-line extension on Embarcadero to Fisherman’s Wharf. Later made ADA accessible (as single–end car).

    2005—Unavoidable accident during pull–in damages car; Muni shops repair it at considerable expense.

    Today—In regular service, weather permitting.


  3. Stucco Sux says:

    My mother’s ’55 caddy convertible was slightly wider, though quite not as long.

  4. suckerpunch says:

    I’m sorry, but that’s just plain awesome!

  5. Eric says:

    Dammit, I’ve missed this thing every single damn time they’ve brought it out. Bad luck, I guess.

  6. mark says:

    i love that thing. i got to ride it once.

  7. subby says:

    I’ve seen this before, in tourist land doing touristy things with out-of-town visitors, aka tourists. Of course, as soon as I saw this, I started pointing and gawking, jaw hanging open, thus making myself indistinguishable from an actual tourist, and fulfilling the prophecy that only tourists get to see this thing.

  8. fsharp says:

    Good grief how long have you lived in SF?
    This awesome streetcar has been around for more than a decade. There’s more to the city than Dolores Park kids. Hop on your fixies and check out the Embarcadero and Fishermen’s Warf. There’s all kinds of ironic fun to be had.

    • Lapidgeon says:

      Fisherman’s Wharf is not ironic, it’s lame. Tourist hate aside (I’m an original DC (District of Columbia, the REAL DC) resident and as such hatred of tourists is something of a pastime) there is just nothing there worth going to check out. The only thing worth going for is In n Out and I’d almost rather hitch a ride/BART to the one in Daly City.

      Sorry for the negativity, I was just close to there this weekend and it reconfirmed my distaste for it.

      In the end I think we should all thank the powers that be that those tourist maps so ubquitous in this city neglect to mention anything south of 11th street or so. If they don’t know were here, they can’t clog up our sidewalks or ask us dumb questions like “where’s tartine?” when they are standing in front of it.

      end rant

      • fsharp says:

        I’m glad that there are haters to keep all the other misanthropes huddled away in the Mission.
        It’s cool to see people from all over the world with their matching outfits enjoying the views and spilling their ice cream. I like to see real working fishing boats and all the steamy crab pots. It’s fun to ride the old streetcars and check out the crazy shit in the shops. I like taking the ferry across the bay. I like the Buena Vista. Tourist hate is so fucking 1990. In and Out and Fishermen’s Ward sucks BTW.

    • johnny0 says:

      Oh, the Google Maps Featured Favorite Places will take care of that. I suggest we move the Concrete Fish Icons in front of crappy restaurants to confuse tourists brave enough to venture south of the Mission-Dixon line.

  9. LibertyHiller says:

    Since when is it surprising to see a historic streetcar along Church? That’s the route they take to get from the F-line to the Geneva yard.

  10. newshound says:

    It gives a very nautical whistle as it pulls out of Dolores Park and back up the hill and home to the yard.

  11. olu says:

    I’ve seen it the last few “summers” and I appreciate that it looks gangsta.

    chopped, dropped and screwed…

  12. smallerdemon says:

    I have ridden on the boat, and it is great fun. I was a long time reader of one of the F Line’s drivers’ blog and he talked at great length about piloting the boat street car. It’s a great deal of fun to ride on a warm day.

  13. David Mudkips says:

    Wow. Anti-tourist rant much?

    I grew up in Florida and spent pretty much every weekend on one of the most heavily touristed beaches on Earth. We didn’t mind the tourists… hell, they were paying for damn near everything we got to enjoy year ’round. there was an occasional “snowbird” joke, but that’s about it.

    Rather than bitch about tourists and “touristy” areas — here’s an idea: adopt one. Try something crazy like and make new friends.

    I *love* sharing my city with newbies. I help them do all the tourist stuff they think they have to (Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, yadda yadda yadda)… and after that’s done with I take them around the REAL San Francisco: sunny day picnic in Delores Park… a great burger at Zuni… dirt cheap Vietnamese eats at Tu Lan… a bonfire on the beach.

  14. one says:

    we wouldn’t have such groovy shit without tourists – however high you turn your nose up at Fisherman’s Wharf – so be nice!

  15. mark says:

    i love going to fisherman’s wharf. i certainly couldn’t handle it everyday, but it’s fun hearing tourists spout misinformation about the city and its history with authority and gravitas. also segway tours. when i was fairly new to the city the tourists drove me crazy but i’ve learned to love them.

    also i think the musee mecanique is one of the best things in san francisco.

    • mark says:

      i should specify i do not enjoy going on segway tours; rather, i enjoy gawking at people on segway tours, especially when they are wearing safety vests.