C-Church? J-Judah? Why not?
April 16, 2007 1:59 AM   Subscribe

SF Muni Metro: Naming conventions?

Anyone know the history or reasoning behind the single-letter naming conventions for the San Francisco MUNI's metro system?

The new "T" Third is an obvious one, but apart from all the letters (F, J, K, L, M, N) being somewhat consecutive, I don't get it. What happened to A-E and H-I? Are these defunct lines? And will O-S ever get used?
posted by sellout to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There was a B-Geary. What a shame it's gone. Searching google for "Muni B Geary" gives you some results to follow up on other lost lines.
posted by Nelson at 2:07 AM on April 16, 2007

I don't know anything about this, but you might be interested in this previous question.
posted by jacalata at 5:14 AM on April 16, 2007

Best answer:
Since its inception in 1912, the San Francisco Municipal Railway has assigned letters to its streetcar routes. Originally, this was done to distinguish its routes from those of its private competitor, the Market Street Railway Co., which numbered them. Muni route designations were assigned in alphabetical order. The first two lines, the A and the B, both ran on Geary Street. Muni worked through the alphabet (including such lines as the E-Union and F-Stockton) until it reached the letter N in 1928. The N-Judah was the last permanent Muni streetcar line to open for almost seventy years.

After World War II, Muni began converting many streetcar lines to bus service, changing the letter designations to numbers as they did so. For example, the B-Geary streetcar became the 38-Geary bus. The E-Union streetcar ultimately became the 41-Union bus, and the F-Stockton streetcar became the 30-Stockton bus.

In 1979, Muni proposed a new streetcar line to run along The Embarcadero on the City’s northeast waterfront. It was assigned the letter E to match Embarcadero, and perhaps because the original E-line ran a few blocks along The Embarcadero. The following year, Muni proposed another new streetcar line, to take over surface streetcar service on Market Street after the existing surface streetcar lines (J, K, L, M, and N) moved into a new subway beneath Market. This line was designated F-Market simply because it followed the letter E.

posted by vacapinta at 7:07 AM on April 16, 2007

Nelson- if you miss the B-Geary, you might be interested to hear about the Geary BRT.
posted by ambrosia at 8:14 AM on April 16, 2007

And will O-S ever get used?

The S is actually already used for the Castro Shuttle which runs in a loop from Castro Street Station down to Embarcadero. I'm making an educated guess, but I think the S is largely in affect during pre-rush hour times to keep an adequate number of trains underground so that they can be switched JKLMNs when the peak time hits.

So yeah, the S Shuttle makes sense and the T Third Street makes sense but the other ones don't. If anything, having both a M and a N only adds to the confusion since it's sometimes hard to audibly distinguish between the two when they are being announced by the computer lady.
posted by quadog at 12:28 PM on April 16, 2007

Response by poster: I never really considered the Castro Shuttle as a Metro line proper, but I guess it does make sense as a letter designation.

I always though of it sort of like the mysterious J/N that hangs the turn at Duboce and Church and never makes it into the subway. Ain't on the maps, but it shows up on the rails. Weird.

Thanks for the links.
posted by sellout at 4:31 PM on April 16, 2007

I've always assumed that those Js that follow the N route until Church and Duboce are heading home for the night to some streetcar parking lot down south.
posted by epugachev at 7:32 PM on April 16, 2007

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