A streetcar named …

It’s very popular (and, admittedly, very easy) to bag on Muni’s faults — there are so many of them. However, I am often a huge fan of the trolley/streetcar lines, especially the underground tunnels and the restored fleet of streetcars that run along the F-Market line.

Even though they are technically only used on that line, I’ve seen them toodling down the J-Church line. Since they’re always empty, I assumed they always dumped the passengers off at some point and then just went down to Balboa Park to turn around.

Yesterday, after paying a visit to the San Francisco Railway Museum, where they encourage you to go out and see the streetcars and view them as “museums in motion,” we hopped on an F train and intended to ride it to Church St. and transfer to the J. We sat in the comfy leather seats and I read the information placard on the train that explained it was the 1055, a restored car from Philadelphia, originally painted green/cream/red.

Then the conductor said that he wasn’t taking the F to Castro Street, as most F trains do, but was instead taking her all the way to Balboa Park — and anyone who was stopping along the J line could ride along. It felt for a moment like I’d found the secret platform for the train to Hogwarts or Narnia or something. Seriously, I had no idea this was possible.

I was rapt the whole way — I love the way San Francisco looks through the windows of a trolley, but even more so the old-style windows of the streetcars. I was impressed by how this lumbering vehicle made it through the S-curves above Dolores Park. And, because it didn’t have to make all the usual stops, the ride was relatively speedy.

Now I’m going to need to figure out the trick to knowing which F trains will take the J-Church line down, because I totally want to do it again. — Beth W.

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