Transfers Tell Stories of Muni History

100 Muni StoriesReader Ronald Reiss has been collecting Muni transfers for many years. These transfers tell a story of Muni’s history, from Muni’s first lines (A or B Geary) to a briefly enforced, novel way to thwart fare evaders in the 1980s. Some of the transfers really tell a story of how families used Muni on weekends. He took some photos of some of the more interesting transfers to share with Muni Diaries readers.

If you have more transfers from any era that you’d like to share with Ronald for his amazing collection, please be sure to get in touch.

Take a ride through Muni history, from Ronald …

Above, 1910s to 1930s, from left to right:

1. One of the earliest Muni transfers, dating from the early ‘teens. Note that no line is listed; it likely comes from the A or B Geary, Muni’s first lines.

2. Union Street Line, c. 1916: The “E” Union line eventually became the 41-Union trolley coach line. It was known by its unique single-truck center door “dinky” cars.

3. Van Ness Avenue Line, mid-to late 1920s.

4. Stockton Street Line, 1930s. This was the original “F” line, the F-Stockton. It became the 30-Stockton line in the late 1940s when streetcars were phased out in favor of electric trolley coaches.

1940s, from left to right:

1. Judah St. Line, Feb. 6, 1944. Issued a few months before the merger with Market Street Railway, from today’s familiar N-Judah line.

2. Form 8, May 3, 1945. Immediately after the merger, Muni’s transfers looked identical to pre-merger MSR transfers, except for the name. This one is punched for the 19-Polk line.

3. Form 11, c. 1947. Earlier transfers were issued in different colored paper stock, so conductors could tell what they were at a glance. In the late 40s, Muni changed to indicate the color by a printed stripe on the transfer.

1950s through 1980s, from left to right:

1. Form 2A, punched Feb 6, 1951. This type of transfer was used from 1950 to about 1972, and should be familiar to many long-time San Franciscans. This one shows the B and C Geary lines, which were discontinued in December 1956 and replaced by the 38-Geary.

2. Green triangle: In around 1987, Muni attempted to thwart fare evaders by issuing transfers with random letters, numbers and geometrical figures, in random colors. It didn’t work.

3. May 4, 1988: The beginning of the modern era, with transfers with printed dates, and colors varying by month. This is one of the earliest; the system began in March 1988 and continues today.

Car tickets and other interesting tidbits, from left to right:

At left are two “car tickets,” the top from the 1930s and the bottom from the 1950s. I’m sure all of us who went to school in San Francisco before the mid-1970s remember these from our daily commutes to and from school. To the right is a Sunday/ Holiday ticket, sold for unlimited rides on a Sunday or holiday, back when families would take excursions through the city on the bus.

Ronald also collects materials from predecessor systems in San Francsico, ranging from horsecar lines in the 1860s and early 1870s through the Market Street Railway, which was absorbed by Muni in 1944. He is still looking for transfers of any age, including recent ones, as well as Fast Passes from the 1970s. So if you have some to share with him or trade, email him at

And don’t forget to check out other posts in our 100 Days, 100 Muni Stories feature, celebrating Muni’s centennial this year.


  • FYI: The San Francisco Railway Museum sells some old transfers that have been laminated so they’ll last. They’re great for bookmarks.

  • Bruce (@Steambrew).

    Great piece, real slice of history. Thanks for posting it.

  • Dexter Wong

    Thanks for posting the picture of the Muni School Ticket, it brought back memories of using it to go to school and elsewhere back in the 60s.

  • For old folks, the two most compelling memories of childhood are schools attended, and out beloved (or not) MUNi. Carry on the good work.

  • Thanks for posting! I loved the freedom of transferring through San Francisco when I was a kid in the ’50’s and ’60’s.

  • Mary McGarvey

    I found today a November 3 1958 Transfer in a 1952 book.
    Would you like it or you already have enough of them?

    I rode the MUNI for many years in the 1970‘s and 80‘s. I was astounded when I got to Germany and found the buses and trams came at the time posted!! You can imagine the reverse shock back here….. but getting mad never worked. Bring a book and maybe a folding chair, food.

  • R. Richards

    2 old SF memories…trying to get an 11th hole punch on a car ticket by holding it a certain way. Most Muni drivers were hip and would just say “Nice try, kid”. The myth, belief that if you gave a girl a ” 21 ” transfere, she had to kiss you. Still looking for that transfere!

  • Shannon

    I thought I’d lost my stack of 21 transfers. While moving from my house, I found it and it made me feel like all good luck will come my way.

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