Vintage photos show evolution of the Muni bus

old muni bus from sfgate

Muni wasn’t always the familiar brown-and-orange chariot that you know so well. The buses have come a long way since the day of the 5-cent fare. Reporter Bob Bragman at SFGate found archival photos and put together a gallery with more than 40 photographs of Muni buses through the years.

The earliest one dates from 1918, showing the first gasoline bus introduced by The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. It crossed Golden Gate Park. There aren’t any bus photos in the folder from the Twenties or Thirties, I had to get them from another source. But, every other decade was well-represented.


The photo from 1918 was used in an article that was published in 1962. Fifty years earlier, San Francisco launched as what Muni describes as “the first major, publicly owned, land-based transit agency in the United States.” On that day, an open end streetcar, which came to be known as “Old Number One,” slid smoothly and sleekly out of the barn and headed east down Geary Street at noon, on December 28.”

Here are just a few of the gems from the SFGate and archives:
“1930’s: MSR 33-Line #58. On wide street with streetcar tracks, possibly Guerrero between 14th and 18th? Courtesy of”
old Muni bus from

A photo from the 1950’s: “First new fleet of 440 buses rolled over the city streets.”
Muni bus vintage via sfgate

Here’s the whole gallery for the history/transit buffs.

Last week to see cable car documentary at the Balboa

California Street Cable Car_sm

Only one more week to see a rare documentary on San Francisco’s most iconic transit mode: the cable car. “San Francisco Cable Cars,” a documentary by local filmmaker Strephon Taylor, is playing at the adorable Balboa Theatre until next Thursday, March 30.

Taylor has made many popular historic documentaries, and this one is perfect for transit and history buffs. From SFGate:

His latest is “San Francisco Cable Cars,” with interviews and rare photos and video documenting the advancement of cable car technology in the 1800s, the influence of Gold Rush miner Andrew Smith Hallidie and efforts to save the landmark system in the 20th century.

Catch the documentary at the Balboa (movie times here).

Want more cable car historic gems?

Adorable 1960s sign for a retiring cable car driver
Awesome vintage clips about the fight to save the cable cars
Cable car rings with Bank of America protesters

Muni rider arrested for lighting passenger’s hair on fire


Police arrested a Muni rider for setting a woman’s hair on fire on the bus, reports SFist. A new nightmare for those of us with long (flammable?) hair, the suspect got onto the bus near Eighth and Market, reports SFist, and here’s what happened:

Police say that a 37-year-old man who was seated behind the victim pulled out a lighter and set the victim’s hair on fire, then fled the scene. He was later located, police say, and was arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault.

The victim was not injured (physically, that is).

Perhaps related: Top 10 WTF Muni Moments of 2016.

1950’s Muni baseball team is nothing short of amazing

Muni baseball team

Did you know that in the 1950’s, Muni had its own baseball team? The uniforms alone are amazing. We found this vintage gem via the SFMTA Photo Archive (which you should definitely follow). Check out their Muni baseball caps and jackets!

Speaking of team-building activities, Rick Prelinger of the Prelinger Library once featured the “Muni Drum & Bugle Corps” at Lost Landscapes of San Francisco. I’m still on the hunt for anyone who knows more about this marching band of yore.

SF seeking largest damage claim from Duboce tunnel driver


Remember the driver who accidentally drove into the Duboce tunnel and caused hours of delay? Muni says that it will cost at least $55,000 to repair the tracks and other damages, and the agency is bringing a claim against the driver’s auto insurance company to pay for it, reports the San Francisco Examiner.

The photo above is from a Muni Diaries reader on the night when a car full of N-Judah riders saw some very unexpected headlights in the tunnel.

More from the Examiner:

SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said the $55,000 claim “covers the cost of additional shuttles used on three different days, repairs to the switch and its surrounding infrastructure, the cost of overtime, the cost of ambassadors, and the cost to adjust service.”



The City netted $50,000 for a car entering and damaging the Duboce Muni tunnel in 2012, but that was after the insurance company disputed the claim and it was fought in litigation, said John Cote, a spokesperson for the City Attorney’s Office.

This driver was by far not the first person to drive into the tunnel. Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of these incidents happen at night to drivers who had a few too many, says the Examiner. Although we’d never put it past anyone to do dumb things even in broad daylight, like this driver racing into the tunnel here.

Even two years ago, Streets Blog wrote a story on how Muni can prevent drivers from going into the tunnel meant for Muni trains. The signage already looks obvious enough to me, so some online commenters suggested spikes or a gate. Any other ideas?

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Muni fare inspectors catch far more evaders near the SFMTA HQ

hoodline muni citation map

Muni’s fare cops issue way more citations near the SFMTA headquarters on South Van Ness than anywhere else in the city, according to Hoodline. The data nerds (and I mean that in the most complimentary way) at Hoodline overlayed the distance between the SFMTA office and the location where a fare citation was issued.

When Hoodline asked SFMTA’s chief security officer, Christopher Grabarkiewctz, why this might be, he didn’t have a super clear explanation:

We certainly have a performance standard that supervisors are supposed to maintain, but a lot of these people have been doing it for a very long time,” said Grabarkiewctz. “I’m not making excuses, it’s certainly something that we try to exercise and there’s constant reminders about this kind of thing.”

Anecdotally, I’ve seen fare inspectors on the 38 as far out as Masonic, but the method of distributing fare inspectors as described in the Hoodline story seemed imprecise at best.

For now, a reminder that everyone must pay fare on Muni (yes, even you), and preferably in the right denomination.

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