On behalf of the City and County of San Francisco, it is my pleasure to recognize and celebrate the centennial anniversary of Muni. It is easy to understand that San Francisco’s evolution as a world-class city strategically located on the Pacific Rim was, in great part, driven by the parallel growth of its transportation system. We can now view that reality from the perspective of one hundred years as the San Francisco Municipal Railway—known universally as Muni--marks its centennial on December 28, 2012.
This is a singular occasion for all who live in and visit our hilly City and enjoy the mobility offered by Muni to virtually any location in San Francisco. Whether it be the iconic cable cars, the historic streetcars from around the globe, the electric trains and buses or the hybrid electric and biodiesel buses carrying nearly 700,000 people a day, the Muni fleet is globally unique.
Muni also has blazed human rights trails far in advance of other transit systems around the nation. Curtis E. Green, who drove for Muni for nearly 20 years, became the first African American general manager of a major urban transit system in the nation when he was appointed in 1974.
Moreover, Muni was always in the forefront of the disability rights movement, which has its roots in the San Francisco Bay Area. As early as 1975, the Coalition for the Removal of Architectural Barriers began to advocate for the railcars soon to be purchased for the new Muni Metro system to ensure that they were accessible to people in wheelchairs. That same year, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution making it City policy that “elderly and disabled people” enjoy the right to mobility provided by public transit.
Although it would be more than a decade before Congress passed the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, San Francisco understood that full accessibility to door-to-door paratransit service and accessible bus and rail services was a fundamental human right.
Today, Muni is a vital part of a line of transportation services managed by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency that offers green modes capable of reducing our carbon footprint and congestion. These include walking, bicycling, car sharing, taxis and the leveraging of technology to streamline the movement of traffic and find a parking space on our streets.
I am confident that we are embarking on Muni’s second century with a renewed commitment to being Transit First which will remain our unwavering credo as the City continues to spawn more jobs, more economic development and an enhanced quality of life for all.
Please join us throughout the year in celebrating the legacy—and the future—of our unique transit system by checking this website and the media regularly for Muni centennial events and activities.
Edwin M. Lee