PCC Streetcars

PCC's are streetcars that were originally designed under the direction of the Electric Railway Presidents' Conference Committee, in an attempt by twenty-five U.S. and Canadian transit companies to develop a standardized streetcar whose many improvements would help to reverse the decline in transit use that had begun in the 1920's. The committee's efforts began in late 1929, and the first cars were put into service in New York in October 1936.

The PCC's were immediately popular with transit companies and the public. The cars' streamlined design was attractive, and they were quieter and more economical that earlier versions of streetcars, with better motors, controls, acceleration, and braking, Chicago had the largest fleet of PCCs and of the American cities no represented in Muni's F-line fleet, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., also had a large number of the cars. (Also in Muni's historic fleet is Car No. 1704, a PCC car painted in the colors of the St. Louis Public Service Co.)

In 1939, Muni bought five Magic Carpet cars, which were very similar to PCCs, but did no have the PCCs' patented improvements. Muni's first true PCC cars arrived in 1948. After the last of Muni's older, slower "heavyweight" cars were retired in 1958, PCCs provided the service on the city's remaining streetcars lines.

The last of the approximately 5,000 PCC cars built for North American use was Muni's Car No. 1040, built by the St.. Louis Car Co., and accepted for Muni service in 1952. Modernized versions of the cars were produced in other countries for several years after that. PCCs are still operated seven days a week in Boston, Newark, and Toronto.

From February 1980 to June 1981, the city's five streetcar lines were converted in phases to Muni Metro service on weekday, with Metro streetcars (light rail vehicles) providing the weekday service in the new Market St. subway and PCCs continuing to provide service on the surface of Market on weekends. Starting in September 1982, buses were substituted for streetcars on weekends, until the Metro streetcars began providing service every day in the subway beginning in November of that year.

Now, after an absence of thirteen years, Market Street will once again see PCC streetcar service, with the start of the F Market historic streetcar line on September 1st.

o.k., back to the photos.. -->