If two Blackpool Boat Cars are better than one, then it is clear that three are even better! And that’s something which San Francisco’s Market Street Railway agree with as they have just announced that they have secured a third Boat for their operation, with a fundraising appeal now in place to get the last money needed for its transport.
Already home to Boat Cars 228 and 233, if all goes according to plan San Francisco will become the permanent home of 226 as well – a tram which is actually no stranger to San Francisco having been the first of the class to have run there back in 1983. It was loaned to San Francisco from the Western Railway Museum for a couple of years and was such a success that it led Market Street Railway to go and get another Boat Car – 228 (which although back in Blackpool hadn’t operated since it had a spell in Philadelphia). Then with that proving popular a second Boat followed when 233 was acquired from the then Lancastrian Transport Trust in 2013.
226 has long been on the radar to operate on the Market Street Railway but previous attempts to secure it had been rejected by the Western Railway Museum, although its use there wasn’t prolific. However, things change and now with the museum looking to trim their fleet they are willing to sell the tram to San Francisco after all – and it should be moved in due course to complete the hattrick of Blackpool Boat Cars in the American city.
The majority of the funding for the purchase, transport and other associated expenses is coming from the Thoresen Foundation but extra money will be needed so an appeal has been launched for this. To contribute you can go to https://streetcar.app.neoncrm.com/forms/bring-home-the-love-boat.
Muni have agreed to prioritise the restoration of 226 and so it will not be purchased and then sit around for years waiting for work to start. It is considered an important acquisition with the third Boat likely to allow them to ensure regular operation of at least one of their three Boat Cars. Its also said that it would “open the door to a resumption of the excursions on lines such as J and L that were so popular during the Trolley Festivals.” Muni leadership has agreed to consider proposals for “Boat to the Beach” in the future.
Of course, 226 will be joining two other Boat Cars in the shape of 228 and 233. 228 is currently operational and is a red and white livery (similar to Blackpool’s 227) – it was one of the stars of last September’s Muni Heritage Weekend. Meanwhile, 233 is nearing a return to service with work (which had been delayed by the pandemic) approaching completion; this has included a full truck rebuild.
Once all three Boats are overhauled and in service there will be two locations in the world with three Blackpool Boat Cars – the other one is obviously their home system on the Lancashire Coast where 227, 230 and 600 reside.