Oren’s Reading List: Bringing a Cable Car back to San Francisco After 77 Years

Last weekend was MUNI’s annual “Heritage Weekend” event, when vintage streetcars, buses, and streetcars are brought out in to revenue service by the Market Street Railway. I’ve never been to San Francisco for this event, but I did see an article floating around about how a San Francisco cable car constructed in 1883 was restored over the course of 20 years.  That restoration was completed just in time for this year’s Heritage Weekend event.  Click here to read the whole story.

Oren’s Reading List is an occasional feature on The Travelogue in which I share articles that I’ve read that might also be of interest to the readers of this website.

Oren’s Reading List: A Visit to the TTC Control Centre

I’ve had the opportunity to visit some areas of transit systems that are typically off limits to the public and have been able to take photographs that you can find on this website.  There are also times that I have had access to non-public parts of a transit system where photography is forbidden or I am asked not to share my photos online, and I abide by those requests out of respect for those who make them.  In 2007, I had the opportunity to visit the TTC Control Centre, the location from which the Toronto Transit Commission keeps the largest transit system in Canada and the third largest transit system in North America running smoothly.  On my visit, photography was not permitted.  The National Post obtained access and permission to photograph and write about what goes on in the control centre, also referred to as the TTC’s war room.  This is a scene that plays out behind the scenes of every transit agency as it attempts to keep trains and their passengers moving while constantly handling unexpected circumstances such as malfunctioning doors and emergency alarms.  And while you may not believe it, it might be a “net positive” to offload your train in the midst of a transit delay in order to keep everyone else moving.

Curious to have a glimpse behind the scenes at the TTC’s control centre?  Click here to read the National Post’s article.

Oren’s Reading List is an occasional feature on The Travelogue in which I share articles that I’ve read that might also be of interest to the readers of this website.

Oren’s Reading List: A Tube Themed Hotel is Now Open in London

Planning a trip to London?  Perhaps you are traveling to ride the special steam train excursion that is coming up in June?  Consider staying at the Ibis Styles Gloucester Road, which reopened this month and has a London Underground theme throughout the hotel.  Check out what it looks like in this article from Londonist, and then make a reservation to stay there!  (For the record, I have not been a guest at this hotel pre or post renovation.)

Oren’s Reading List is an occasional feature on The Travelogue in which I share articles that I’ve read that might also be of interest to the readers of this website.

Oren’s Reading List: Everyone’s Personality Matches Two Types Of Transportation — What’s Yours?

The American Public Transportation Association is celebrating National Get on Board Day tomorrow, and to drum up some publicity for the event, they have sponsored a Buzzfeed quiz to match your personality to public transport modes.  Take the quiz now and discover yours, and then share your results in the comments below.  I’m apparently  a combo of an aerial tram and a bus.

After you take the quiz, you can help build support for public transit by visiting APTA’s Get on Board Day Website. On that site, sign a petition showing their support, share stories about how their lives have been impacted by public transit, and learn about its value. ​​

Oren’s Reading List is an occasional feature on The Travelogue in which I share articles that I’ve read that might also be of interest to the readers of this website.

Oren’s Reading List: The Story Behind San Francisco’s Heritage Streetcar Line


In yesterday’s Washington Post Travel Section, there was an article about the F-Line in San Francisco, which operates historic streetcars on a route that serves as an integral part of the city’s transportation network.  The article features an interview with Rick Laubscher who organized the first vintage trolley festival in the early 1990s, leading to the opening of the F-Line on September 1, 1995.

To read the article, click here

To see photos of the F-Line on this website, click here.

Oren’s Reading List is an occasional feature on The Travelogue in which I share articles that I’ve read that might also be of interest to the readers of this website.

Who Wants to Play LOOP?

It’s holiday shopping season!  If you’re looking for something to get the transit fan in your life, or you’re looking for transit themed things to add to your holiday gift wish list, check out LOOP: The Elevated Card Game.  According to CityLab, the game has similarities to UNO and Crazy Eights, but instead of numbers, suits, or colors, the game cards have names of stations, “L” lines, or special cards such as “Forgot Farecard” and “Manspreading.”  You can order the game (as well as other licensed Chicago Transit Authority merchandise) from Transit Tees

What other transit themed holiday gifts are you hoping for this year? 


Oren’s Reading List: MLB Players Tour Japan by Train

Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, MD could be accessible by Maglev some day.  In the meantime, MARC commuter rail trains to and from Washington, DC stop behind the warehouse beyond the right field fence.

It might be hot stove season, but that doesn’t mean that there is no baseball to speak of anywhere in the world.  Major League Baseball sent an all-star team to Japan earlier this month to face off against the Japanese national team.  Although most teams travel by plane within the US during the regular season (with some exceptions in the Northeast and for intracity interleague games), the MLB all stars rode the Shinkansen between Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagoya.  Houston Astros pitcher Collin McHugh sounds like he might be a transit fan, and several other players offered their opinions about which corridors might be appropriate for high speed rail in the US.

To read the article about the MLB all-star team’s travels through Japan by train, click here.

Oren’s Reading List: A Train Ride Back to the Old Israel

About one month ago, after many delays and some fanfare, Israel Railways inaugurated service on the new Tel Aviv-Jerusalem High Speed Rail line, the first time that Israel’s capital city is connected to the rest of the country by a train line that is actually competitive with driving.  However, for reasons that can only be explained as politicking, the line is open despite not being ready for full operations just yet.  Trains are operating every half hour on weekdays between Jerusalem and Ben Gurion Airport, at which point passengers must transfer to another train in order to continue the rest of the way to Tel Aviv.  The power substations along the line are temporary, and several trains have gotten stuck along the line with passengers on board when the temporary electrical system is extended beyond its capabilities.  The line does not operate evenings and weekends so crews can finish the line and bring it to full operational status, which will take longer than it would if the crews could work 24/6 instead of needing to clear the tracks for revenue service each weekday.  Eventually, the trip between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv will take 35 minutes and not require a change of trains.

One question I’ve often received over the past few years while this new line is being constructed is what does the future hold for the old Tel Aviv-Jerusalem train line?  This line was constructed by the Ottomans and opened in 1892, and despite the fact it takes well over 90 minutes to travel between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and carries few passengers, it has been in operation ever since the line was reopened following extensive repairs and the construction of a new terminal at Malha in Jerusalem in 2005.  While this train route may not be the fastest way to get between these cities, it is quite pretty, as the train winds its way through the hills.  However, the beautiful scenery along the route will not be enough to save the line; the segment between Beit Shemesh and Jerusalem is likely to be closed at some point in the future after the new high speed line is fully operational.

Last week in the New York Times, Matti Friedman wrote about why he prefers the old Ottoman era train route over the new high speed route.  You can read his piece here. And if you find yourself in Israel with enough time to take the scenic train route on your way to or from Jerusalem, do so.  You won’t have the chance for too much longer…

Oren’s Reading List: Trackless in Seattle

I’ve been to Seattle twice, although it has been over 10 years since my last trip.  Lots has changed there in the intervening interval, but one thing that stood out to me on my previous trips is the ubiquitous presence of trolleybuses in the King County Metro fleet.  This dates back to a decision to retain some electric powered transit lines, albeit with rubber tires as opposed to steel rails, as the Emerald City’s streetcars were decommissioned.  And in recent years, Seattle in conjunction with KCM are implementing plans to develop the trolleybus network even further, as they have proven themselves to be a low-cost zero-emission component to the city’s transportation network over decades of service.

Can you name the five U.S. cities where trolleybuses operate?  (You already know one of them!)

To read more about Seattle’s trolleybus network, click here

Oren’s Reading List: Total MUNI 2018

As an almost perfect followup to last week’s post about riding an entire system in a day, I was alerted to a recent attempt by two San Francisco Chronicle writers, Peter Hartlaub and Heather Knight, who set out on what they called “Total MUNI 2018.”  Spurred by Knight’s 4 year old son’s interest in buses, she and Hartlaub set out to ride every MUNI line in a single day.  They were not the first to attempt the feat.  Larry Baer, who is now the CEO of the San Francisco Giants, and his friend Andrew Coblentz rode every route on a bit of a lark back in 1980, and both Total MUNI veterans provided guidance and support to Hartlaub and Knight.  Baer (and Giants’ mascot Lou Seal) even joined Hartlaub and Knight on a historic F Line streetcar

As is often the case with these sorts of adventures, there is a certain amount of controversy vis a vis the methodology by which one is deemed to have been on an entire system.  For example, I have a friend who says my claim to have been to have been to every DC Metrorail station isn’t really credible since I have not paid a fare at each and every station (I disagree with her). When Baer and Coblentz were planning their adventure in 1980, they decided that one had to ride on a vehicle for at least three stops in order for it to count as riding a route.  In one of the podcasts Hartlaub and Knight did prior to Total MUNI, Baer explained that three stops felt like a good minimum since it felt like you were actually going somewhere.  I agree with that standard.  However, Hartlaub and Knight (with Baer’s endorsement) decided they could use other modes of transit besides walking to get from route to route if necessary, including Uber, Lyft, rides from friends, and even a rickshaw, and I have to raise issue with this.  While I certainly won’t take away from their achievement, I think it would be more remarkable to ride every MUNI route in a day AND not use any other modes of transit to do so.

If you’re interested in learning more about Total MUNI 2018, you can read a recap on the San Francisco Chronicle website (a search of “Total MUNI” on the Chronicle website turns up other articles about the quest to ride each MUNI route in a day.  You can also listen to Hartlaub and Knight discussing their preparations for Total MUNI 2018 and recapping after the fact on “The Big Event” podcast, available through iTunes.

Have you ever done an adventure like this?  What do you think of the criteria that Hartlaub and Knight used to achieve Total MUNI 2018?  Post an answer to either question in the comments below.

Oren’s Reading List is an occasional feature on The Travelogue in which I share articles that I’ve read that might also be of interest to the readers of this website.