September 7, 1941
First day of service on the R Howard line, Muni's first trolley bus line, running from Beale & Howard, on Howard St. and South Van Ness Ave. to Army St. (Cesar Chavez St.), with coaches built by the St. Louis Car Co.
The line was on a route that had been served by horsecars and cable cars. The route had not provided important service by any mode of transit or under any ownership, but the new line allowed Muni to offer nickel-fare competition only a block away from the Market Street Railway's Mission St. streetcar lines in the inner Mission District, which charged a 7¢ fare.
(Also, trolley buses only required one person to operate them, while streetcars were required under city law to be operated by two persons, until that law was overturned by the voters in June 1954.)
September 29, 1944
At 5 a.m., the city takes over the facilities and equipment of the Market Street Railway and begins combined operations with a 7¢ fare.
June 8, 1947
Last day of streetcar service on Muni's E streetcar line, with trolley buses and motor buses taking over service the next day and full trolley bus operation shortly thereafter. This was the first post-war conversion of a streetcar line to trolley bus service - the E-line conversion had been planned several years before, but had been delayed by the war effort.
(The E and R trolley bus lines were combined, and the new service was called the E Union-Howard. The E line was re-designated the 41 line in February 1949, a time when much of the Muni-Market Street Railway consolidated service was renamed. The former R Howard section of the line was dieselized in 1971 and abandoned in 1983.)
July 3, 1949
Five lines formerly served by Market Street Railway streetcars begin trolley bus service on Market St. Many of San Francisco's conversions of streetcar lines were to trolley buses instead of motor buses, in part because of the "free" electricity from the city's Hetch Hetchy hydroelectric system in the Sierra Nevada. Between 1947 and 1951, fourteen streetcar lines in the city were converted to trolley bus service.
December 16, 1981
The 55 Sacramento diesel line is converted to trolley bus operation. This was the first of the planned conversions of diesel to trolley bus operations that were part of Muni's annually updated 5-Year Plan. The service was supposed to begin the next month as part of the new 1 California line in the Phase 2 service changes, but the trolley buses were rushed into service because of the severe diesel bus shortage at the time.
The conversion highlighted the hill-climbing abilities of trolley buses, since diesel buses on the 55 line were legendary for not being able to make the steep grade going west on Nob Hill when filled with customers. The 55 line had been in service since February 1942, after the Market Street Railway had converted the Sacramento-Clay cable car line to motor bus operation. Thus, the new trolley bus line was running over much of that cable car route and that of its predecessor, Andrew Smith Hallidie's Clay Street Hill Railroad, the world's first cable car line.
January 27, 1982
Twenty-seven lines are affected as Phase 2 of the 5-Year Plan takes effect. Changes included the combining of the 1 California and the 55 Sacramento trolley bus lines into the new 1 California trolley bus line, and the extension of the 24 Divisadero diesel line to Third Street.
Also, the 45 Greenwich diesel line was converted to 45 Union-Van Ness trolley bus service because of Muni's diesel problems. The conversion was an "experimental" measure that was subsequently made permanent. (In October 1988, the line's route was changed, and its name was changed to the 45 Union-Stockton line.)
August 24, 1983
Phase 3 of the 5-Year Plan goes into effect. Included in this phase were the electrification of the 24 line and the implementation of 49 Van Ness-Mission service.
August 7, 1985
Four lanes of bus operations are introduced on Market St. For this new service, a second set of overhead trolley bus wires had been installed along several blocks of Market, allowing two lanes of diesel and trolley bus service in each direction, with some bus lines making stops at islands, and others at the curb. The four lanes allowed for more transit vehicles on the street, and faster service. (Additional island stops were put into service on October 2nd of that year.)
February 6, 1988
There was cause for a celebration that Saturday, with the extension of the No. 33 trolley bus line from Haight St. to Sacramento St., giving riders better crosstown service between the Mission and Richmond districts, and better service to S.F. General, St. Mary's, and Children's hospitals. The extension was celebrated with a parade of historic trolley buses, and ceremonies at Ashbury & Haight, St. Mary's Hospital, Arguello Blvd. & Clement, and Children's Hospital.
March 12, 1994
Full trolley bus service begins on the 31 Balboa line, with 60-foot articulated trolley buses acquired from New Flyer. The official date for the new service was January 1st, but not enough of the buses were ready in time, and the service had to be phased in.
The ridership on the line did not call for 60-foot buses, but they were used on the line because they were the only accessible trolley buses, and the 31 line had been designated a fully accessible line when it had been operated with diesel buses. Plans were made to return to 40-foot buses on the line when new accessible trolley buses were acquired.
December 29, 1995
Shortly after 9 p.m., the last 8-Market trolley bus leaves the Ferry Terminal for 19th & Collingwood, making it the last service on a line that had been served by steam trains, cable cars, and streetcars, as well as trolley buses, beginning in 1880.
The 8-Market service was no longer needed because the F-Market historic streetcar
service had started that September, a very unusual instance in which trolley
bus service was replaced by streetcar service, rather than the other way around.
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Page last updated May 8, 2003.
Information last updated May 8, 2003.