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San Francisco’s vintage streetcars to temporarily be replaced by buses. Here’s why

A vintage streetcar in cream and red colors marked "F Market Castro" travels on urban tracks, with a blurred city backdrop.
A historic F Market & Wharves streetcar travels along Market Street in San Francisco. | Source: Courtesy of SFMTA

If you want to take visiting friends and family for a ride down Market Street on one of San Francisco’s celebrated vintage streetcars this month, you better plan carefully.

The Department of Public Works will shut down a stretch of the city’s iconic thoroughfare between Fifth and Eighth streets from Oct. 14 through Oct. 28 so crews can work in the roadway installing underground electrical conduits for traffic lights and new concrete crosswalks.

That means the city’s transportation agency, SFMTA, must reroute nearly a dozen Muni bus lines and fully replace the tourist-friendly F Market & Wharves streetcar line with buses.

The work is part of San Francisco’s Better Market Street project, which aims to redesign the street into a place where people can gather and easily walk, bike and take public transit.

A red city bus with a digital sign is parked on a street, with pedestrians nearby.
People wait for the 9R Muni bus on Market Street in San Francisco. | Source: Jeremy Chen/The Standard

READ MORE: San Francisco’s Market Street Is Still Under Construction. What’s Being Done?

Rick Laubscher is the president of Market Street Railway, an organization dedicated to preserving the city’s historic and vintage streetcars and cable cars. He’s been involved in the Better Market Street project for years.

“Riders overwhelmingly prefer the vintage streetcars on the F-line, and we’re not wild to see them replaced by buses at any time,” Laubscher said. “That’s why we have pushed on DPW to keep the substitution to a minimum, and only for work that absolutely requires it.” 

City agencies originally proposed shutting down the F-Line for a couple of years, but after discussions with stakeholders, including Market Street Railway, the disruption was minimized, Laubscher said.

Here’s the breakdown:

Street Closures to Start Saturday

Market Street will be closed between Fifth and Eighth streets from Oct. 14 to Oct. 28. 

Streetcars, buses and bicycles will be rerouted off Market Street between Third and 10th streets.

Cross-street traffic will still be allowed at the intersections at Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth and 10th streets.

Muni Reroutes

The construction will affect 12 light rail and bus lines. The subway will operate normally.

Lines Replaced by Buses

Rerouted Lines