Operator Shortage Leads To Reduced Historic Streetcar Service

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Muni’s historic streetcars are a hit with tourists, but a staffing shortage has made regular buses a far more common sight along the Embarcedero and Market Street.

Daniel Bergerac of the dog grooming business Mudpuppies said there’s no shortage of foot traffic at his shop. However, he noted for neighboring businesses in the Castro that don’t cater to furry friends, foot traffic is down.

“Another blow by SFMTA,” said Bergerac.

He’s blaming fewer tourists on fewer street cars. The E and F line trains have been replaced by buses..

“A historic street car is far more append to someone visiting from out of town than a Muni bus,” explained Bergerac.

But the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency says their priority isn’t the street cars.

“Our priority right now is metro rail line over street cars, because the metro rail lines serve so many people,” said SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose. “200,000 people every weekday compared to 20,000 every weekday on street cars.”

The SFMTA says some operators are choosing to drive buses over street cars, making matters worse. An operator needs to be a bus driver for five years before they can be consider for a streetcar operator position.

“We increased Muni to our highest levels ever, which stretch us thin as far as rail operators,” said Rose.

Back in the Castro, Bergerac and merchants are demanding swift change.

“Get more drivers,” said Bergerac. “Get more drivers, get more drivers.”

Those merchants may soon get their wish, as the SFMTA said they recently graduated a new group of street-car operators. The SFMTA believes the new drivers will be able to fill most of their street car service going forward.

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