San Francisco, like many American cities, used to have rail tracks lining most of its major streets. This map shows the routes the streetcars took and the rail lines that exist today. Created by Chris Arvin Two transit systems operated in San Francisco – one, the San Francisco Municipal Railway, still exists today. It was America's first publicly-run transit system, created when voters approved it via a ballot measure in 1909. The Municipal Railway (or "Muni") ran streetcar routes designated by letters A through N. The other system, the privately run Market Street Railway, ran dozens of additional streetcar routes. In 1944, voters of San Francisco approved the city to purchase the private company and merge the two systems. Shortly after, a rapid conversion of streetcars to buses took place. By 1956, only seven streetcar routes remained in San Francisco: the J, K, L, M and N, plus two lines (B and C) that ran on Geary street. The Geary street routes were the last to be converted to bus during this period. The remaining streetcar routes were not able to be converted to bus due to the tunnels and cuts that had been built specifically for the routes. These last holdout lines eventually became what is today's modern Muni Metro light rail system. It is the country's third-busiest light rail system, carring 173,500 passengers a week. The cities of San Francisco's East Bay used to have streetcars carrying passengers across their major streets. Rail lines brought passengers not only throughout the East Bay, but into San Francisco via the Bay Bridge as well. This map shows the routes they took, and where BART's routes go today. Created by Chris Arvin This rail system was operated by a private company called The Key System. In 1946, The Key System was acquired by National City Lines, a shell corporation created by General Motors, Firestone Tires and other automobile interests. Shortly after, all local streetcar routes in the East Bay were converted to bus routes. In 1958, the Bay Bridge routes of the Key System were converted to bus routes as well. The tracks on the Bay Bridge were removed and paved over to allow automobiles to use more lanes on the bridge. Two years later, in 1960, AC Transit took control of the Key System's services.
Dozens of streetcar routes once marked the streets of the Bay Area, from San Francisco’s Mission District to the hills of Oakland. Explore maps of where the routes went and browse thousands of historic photos.