On Wednesday, the Honorable John Brumby, MP, State Premier of Victoria, Australia, presented Mayor Gavin Newsom with a vintage Melbourne tram for operation on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s (SFMTA) popular F Market & Wharves historic streetcar line.
The new streetcar, No. 916, built in 1946, is the second Melbourne tram to join Muni’s historic streetcar fleet. Melbourne tram No. 496, built in 1929, was purchased from Melbourne in 1984 for Muni’s popular Trolley Festivals on Market Street, the proof of concept that led to the creation of the F Line. Both trams are part of Melbourne’s "W-class," of which 750 were built. Not long after tram No. 496 was purchased, the State of Victoria imposed an embargo on further sales of Melbourne trams because of their historic value.
The SFMTA works with its non-profit partner, Market Street Railway (MSR), to preserve San Francisco’s historic streetcar fleet, the F Market line. The streetcars of the F Market Line are one of the City's top tourist attractions, just like the cable cars. Together, they carry more than 40,000 riders per day throughout the city.
The Trolley Festivals of the 1980s resulted in the permanent return of streetcars to Market Street in the form of the F Line. Over the past twenty years, with the assistance of MSR, Muni has acquired and restored more than a dozen historic streetcars and cable cars for service, adding diversity to Muni's peerless historic fleet. Muni currently maintains a fleet of 38 historic streetcars.
Melbourne operates the largest network of trams or streetcars in the Southern Hemisphere. The city’s most recognizable symbol is the iconic "W-Class" tram. Such vintage trams still run on Melbourne’s City Circle line around its downtown, and on a few other routes, although most of today’s Melbourne system is served by modern trams.