Six Subway Routes and Historic Streetcar

San Francisco's city transit system is known as Muni, short for the San Francisco Municipal Railway.  The city is among the very few in the country which maintained at least some of electric streetcar service through the entire Twentieth Century.  The retention of a handful of lines as the decades passed was in large part the result of the two strategic tunnels under, and a private right of way over, hilly areas. 

This was the only city in the U.S. west of the Mississippi that retained urban electric rail of any kind during the darkest transit period after World War Two.  With the last line abandonment in 1958, five trolley routes remained.  Those lines exist today, modernized, but with the same names and the same letter route identification as then.  A sixth route opened in 2007.  And there is historic streetcar service, the F-Market & Wharves, that handles significant traffic along through downtown, and to and from Fisherman's Wharf. 

Major improvements came to fruition for the system in the early 1980s.  Running along Market St. in center city was replaced with the subway, and the long-reliable PCC trolleys gave way to a new class of light rail vehicles.  Various projects resulted in extensions to four of the five routes.

All six light rail lines use at least part of the Muni Metro subway.  The five older routes come out into the open southwest of downtown:  J-Church, K-Ingleside, L-Taraval, M-Ocean View and N-Judah.  The newest route, T-Third, extends outdoors beyond the other end of downtown, and goes virtually to the southern city limits, near San Francisco Bay.

These San Francisco pages are divided into seven sections.  The first area reviews the Muni Metro subway, Twin Peaks Tunnel, and portals to and from the underground route.  The next five sections look at the Muni surface lines, taking them in counterclockwise geographic order away from downtown: N-Judah, then L-Taraval, next K-Ingleside and M-Ocean View together, then J-Church, and after that, T-Third.  Finally, numerous pages are devoted to the highly photogenic F-line historic streetcar. 

The scene on this page shows a single-car M-Ocean View train closely followed by a two-car K-Ingleside run.  The L-Taraval line joins these other two lines at this intersection with Ulloa St.  Just ahead for all three lines is West Portal station, at the entrance to Twin Peaks Tunnel.  There is much automobile and commercial traffic in view in this busy shopping district.

San Francisco, with its regional heavy rail, its own modern light rail, the historic streetcar, cable car routes, commuter rail down the Peninsula, electric and diesel buses, and multiple ferries is an absolutely delightful and always fascinating place for the transportation enthusiast.