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Lost Streetcar in the Bay Area

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where key system used to go Place

San Francisco, Like many American cities, most of the main streets used to have railroads. This map shows the route of the streetcars and the railway lines that exist today.

Created by Chris Arvin

Two transit systems operate in San Francisco – one is the San Francisco Municipal Railroad, which still exists today. It was the first publicly-operated transportation system in the United States, created when voters approved it by ballot in 1909. Municipal Railways (or “Muni”) run streetcar routes designated by the letters A through N.

Another system, the privately run Market Street Railroad, runs dozens of additional streetcar routes. In 1944, voters in San Francisco approved the city’s purchase of a private company and merged the two systems. The trams were quickly transformed into buses shortly after.

By 1956, there were only seven streetcar routes left in San Francisco: J, K, L, M, and N, plus two running on Geary Street (B and C ). During this time, the Geary street route was the last route to be converted to buses. The remaining tram routes cannot be converted to buses due to tunnels and cutouts built specifically for these routes.

These last remaining lines eventually became the modern Muni Metro light rail system today. It is the third busiest light rail system in the country, carrying 173,500 passengers per week.

San Francisco

  • East Bay Cities that used to have streetcars Carry passengers across their main street. The rail line not only takes passengers throughout the East Bay, but also into San Francisco via the Bay Bridge. This map shows the route they took, and where the BART route is going today.

    Creator Chris Arvin

    The rail system is operated by a private company called The Key System. In 1946, Key System was acquired by National City Lines, a shell company created by General Motors, Firestone Tire and other automotive interests. Soon after, all local streetcar routes in the East Bay were converted to bus routes.

    In 1958, the Key System’s Bay Bridge route was also converted to a bus route. Tracks on the Bay Bridge were removed and laid to allow cars to use more lanes on the bridge. Two years later, in 1960, AC Transit took control of Key System’s services.

  • Source:

    • SFMTA Photo Archive
    • OpenSFHistory
    • Charles Smallwood’s San Francisco White Front Car
    • John McCain Inside Mooney and Anthony Perles
    • San Francisco’s Streetcar Century by Fred A. Stindt
    • GS Tram Stop
    • Key system streetcar by Vernon Sappers
    • Key System: San Francisco and the East Coast Empire by Walter Rice and Emiliano Echeverria
    • GS Tram Stop



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