Bay Area Rapid Transit operates heavy rail transit, mostly underground on the peninsula, while the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, known as Muni, operates the city’s light rail lines, designated with letters. Muni and the nonprofit Market Street Railway operate many historic streetcars.
Freight operations, such as SP’s Mission Bay Yard, as well as the San Francisco Belt, Santa Fe, and Western Pacific have largely disappeared. One that remains is Union Pacific’s “dirty dirt” train at Pier 96 [see “Dodging Bullets and Other Assorted Tales,” July 2007].
Chasing down the city’s relics can be just as much fun as chasing its trains. The San Francisco Belt Railroad’s roundhouse still stands at the intersection of Sansome and Lombard on The Embarcadero, the road that skirts the eastern edge of the city, converted to office space. The former Southern Pacific headquarters building is on Market Street.
A little more digging will yield other artifacts of railroading past, like short, disconnected stretches of track still embedded in streets and the occasional crossbuck left in commercial areas. Visitors should keep this in mind as they travel the city streets.