Little Bits of History

San Francisco Muni

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 28, 2012
Opening of the San Francisco Municipal Railway

Opening of the San Francisco Municipal Railway

December 28, 1912: The San Francisco Municipal Railway opens for business. It is the public transit system for the city and county of San Francisco, California. After the great earthquake of 1906, it was decided to merge all the independent transportation types into one system. Prior to the quake there had been many horsecar, cable car, and electric street car providers. They combined to form the United Railroads of San Francisco (URR). In 1909, voters approved a municipal rail line and Geary Street, Park & Ocean Railway was given the job of operating the system. In 1912, that privilege was revoked and the municipal system took over.

Soon after assuming control, the Muni system began to expand. By the end of 1914, the Stockton Street Tunnel under Nob Hill opened and travel from downtown to North Beach was possible. Slightly more than three years later, Twin Peaks Tunnel opened and travel to the southwestern part of the city was available. In 1928, the Sunset Tunnel opened and now the entire Market Street was open to Muni transportation. However, it was also still in use by the URR, putting the two lines, each with their own tracks, in direct competition.

In the 1940s the first trolleybuses were put into use. The URR had been taken over by the Market Street Railway Company and they were in trouble. In 1944, Muni acquired them. They took over both the equipment and the higher fare charged by them. When they first opened, it cost just five cents to ride, but now it cost seven cents. By the end of 1946, it was up to a dime. In the 1950s and 60s, the neighboring BART system was begun, first in the planning and eventually, by the implementation. There was competition between the two entities and by the 1990s, Muni was in trouble. However, they were able to recover from the Muni Meltdown.

Today, Muni operates 365 days a year with 731,400 weekday riders using the system. They are integrated but separate from BART, SamTrans, and AC Transit. They have 54 bus lines, 17 trolley lines, and 7 light rail lines that all run above ground. They have one subway tube with 3 cable car lines, as well. Today’s fares are $2 but one can buy a month pass for $62. If you would also like to have BART access, the price of the pass is increased to $72. The average speed of travel is 7 mph but that is not the top speed. Edward D. Reiskin is the Director of Transportation and the Chief Executive.

San Francisco is 49 square miles surrounded by reality. – Paul Kantner

San Francisco is perhaps the most European of all American cities. – Cecil Beaton

I always see about six scuffles a night when I come to San Francisco.  That’s one of the town’s charms. – Errol Flynn

San Francisco is a golden handcuff with the key thrown away. – John Steinbeck

Also on this day:

Child’s Play – In 1973, Akron, Ohio stops their association with Box Car Derby after cheating becomes rampant.
Neptune – In 1612, Galileo observed the planet Neptune.
Poor Ben – In 1732, an ad for Poor Richard’s Almanack was run in Ben Franklin’s newspaper.