Railway Boosters Want You to Clang, Clang, Clang the Supes to Approve Trolley Funds

Everyone loves the F-Line trolleys — for one-third the price of a cable car you can meet just as many Danish tourists and additionally travel somewhere you'd want to go. It's a great deal — and railway aficionados would also have us believe that it's a great deal to expend $18.7 million rehabilitating 16 trolley cars. In fact, the nonprofit Market Street Railway thinks it's such a good deal that they sent out a Web and e-mail missive urging everyone to head over to the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee at 11 a.m. today and give the supes an earful — and inbox-full — about it.

The notion of spending millions of dollars on transit vehicles cursed to be “historic” and cute — something no one would ever say about a Muni LRV train or bus — while the system faces habitual shortfalls and awaits claims filed by its battalion of wounded riders could strike some as wasteful. Telling that to a trolley fanatic is the quickest way to get him to throw his chocolate milk in your face.

Yes, trolleys are adorable — but they're also functional. The frequent arguments we've heard in favor of these sorts of expenditures: The F-Line is not an extravagance but carries so many riders that it's stretched to capacity; fixing durable old Muni streetcars is far cheaper than purchasing modern vehicles; and proposed trolley maintenance should last for decades. Trolley people are eager to bring up the dollars-per-mile costs of fixing historic rail vehicles as opposed to buses or modern trams.

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