Of all UK tram types there is one which has spread its wings to the most diverse locations in the world – the Blackpool Boat Car. As well as the three in Blackpool and one at Crich, the United States of America is home to a further four with probably the two most high-profile being in San Francisco. The two San Francisco trams are 228 and 233 (latterly 603 and 605) and there is positive news to report on both which will see workshop attention to make sure they are both available for use with Muni recognising the popularity of the trams with the public.
228 is a long-time resident of San Francisco having been transported there in 1985 (it had previously run in Philadelphia during 1976 but had returned to Blackpool in the intervening period although didn’t run again in the UK). For a long-time it was the sole Blackpool Boat in San Francisco and saw regular service on the F heritage streetcar service but with its popularity when the chance came to acquire fellow Boat 233 in 2013 it was taken and the tram made the long trip across to the west coast of America.
A significant investment has been made in 233 since it has been in California including conversion to a low voltage system and a repaint into its original cream and green livery style, but despite that its use has been sporadic. However, this is now all set to change with Muni starting to rebuild the trucks to ensure that the tram can join the worldwide heritage streetcar fleet, dominated by PCC cars. which is utilised on the F line.
But that’s not where the good news ends for the San Francisco Boats as 228 is also set to enjoy a full overhaul in the Workshops. It is planned that this work will start after the Muni Heritage Day on Saturday 4th June with the result of the work on both cars being that there should always be an Open Boat available for service during good weather – once again showing the popularity of these trams, whether that be back at home on the Fylde Coast or over 5,000 miles away in San Francisco!
Talking of the Muni Heritage Day, this will be taking place on one day only in 2022 (staff shortages because of the pandemic are also present in the US) on Saturday 4th June. Rides on the heritage streetcars will be available between 1000 and 1600 on this day and it is planned that 228 will be one of those which is in operation. It will be joined by a wide variety of other streetcars in the fleet including San Francisco’s own Dinky car 578 of 1896, Muni 1, Melbourne 496, Melbourne 916, Brussels 737 and one of the Milan cars – this will be the first time that one of the Milan trams has run since before the pandemic.