By Jerry Cauthen and Angelo Figone : beyondchron – excerpt
Back in the 1960’s Muni was part of the SF Public Utilities Commission. In the late 1960’s the oncoming BART subway give Muni an opportunity to modernize its streetcar system. So the PUC sent one of its engineers to Europe to get a better look at some of Europe’s successful subway operations. He returned with a recommendation that there be a single 10-car train extending from State College to the Embarcadero, fed at the West Portal by short K-L trains and at the Duboce Portal by short J-N trains. That recommendation was rejected by the PUC brass on grounds that San Francisco’s streetcar users, used to getting one-seat rides to downtown San Francisco, “didn’t want to transfer and in fact wouldn’t transfer”.
So the Louis T. Klauder Company…. a pre-eminent rail system design firm….was brought in to design a light rail vehicle (LRV) subway surface system suitable for San Francisco’s unique arrangement; namely five surface streetcar lines feeding into a single subway.
A compromise was eventually reached. It was decided to operate one and two car trains on the Avenues and couple the shorter trains into longer trains at the portals so as not to overload the subway. With this innovative solution it became possible to avoid sending excessively long trains through outlying neighborhoods while holding the number of subway trains per hour to a reasonable number. And that’s the way the Muni Metro system operated between 1980 and the mid-1990’s…(more)