The new E-Embarcadero vintage streetcar line is set to start weekend service on July 25th between Fisherman's Wharf and the Caltrain Station at Fourth and King.
Five historic streetcars will be put into service from 10am–7pm Saturdays and Sundays, with rollout of seven-day service planned in early 2016. They'll make the same stops as the N-Judah from the Folsom stop to Caltrain, using separate street-level platforms, and will share the same stops as the existing F-line historic streetcar from the Ferry Terminal north to the Wharf. Streetcars will run about every 15 minutes.
"There are two really exciting benefits of the E-line," said Julie Kirschbaum, operations planning and scheduling manager for SFMTA. "The first is it makes new connections. It provides a one-seat ride for people traveling from the Embarcadero to 4th and King or the ballpark." It also provides additional capacity where the F-line is most packed: between Pier 39 and the Ferry Building. "By giving this extra service on the weekends," she added, "it will help make the F-line less crowded."
Muni has been training drivers for the task, which is more complicated than driving a bus. It's a common misconception that when buses run on the F-line, it's because a streetcar is out of service for maintenance, but in fact, it's usually because a trained driver isn't available. Streetcar operators are already experienced Muni drivers who get extra training. Muni graduated eight new F- and E-line drivers last Tuesday and another eight are in training and expected to graduate before the launch of the weekend E-line.
Five or six operators will be dedicated to the E-line on weekends, so that means more are now trained for the F-line as well, said Ed Cobean, senior operations manager for SFMTA. About 20,000–25,000 people ride the F-line daily, and it's often tough to squeeze in because they're so popular. This should give some breathing room.
Market Street Railway, which has advocated for the E-line for more than 20 years, is supporting the rollout with signage, docents to help people find the line and publicity, said the nonprofit group's president, Rick Laubscher. Waterfront neighborhood groups are also eager to have another transit option. The line operated on some weekends during the 2013 America's Cup races.
Cost to ride the streetcars is the same as the bus: $2.25 for adults, 75 cents for youths ages 5–17, seniors 65 and older, and the disabled. A route map isn't yet available on the SFMTA website.