On Track: A Field Guide to San Francisco’s Streetcars and Cable Cars

San Francisco’s museums in motion

San Francisco just wouldn’t be the same without its colorful streetcars and cable cars. These vintage forms of public transit are not only practical ways to explore the City—they’re amusement rides that jangle through a mix of historic buildings and vibrant new development, filling your ears with the sound of cables clicking as steel wheels rumble under your feet. At the same time, they’re a fleet of unique traveling museums.

This field guide from the Market Street Railway tells the remarkable stories of each of San Francisco’s cable cars and streetcars. Detailed illustrations and specs accompany the description of each vehicle. There’s even a trainspotter’s checklist at the back of the guide for keeping track of the fleet. On Track also shows riders how to get the most enjoyment out of this unique transportation system. In addition to giving tips for avoiding long waits in line and choosing the best seats, it provides directions for several ride-and-walk tours that cover the City’s “greatest hits” as well as sites frequented primarily by longtime residents.

Part travel guide, part civic and engineering history, this lively book will provide a way for tourists and locals alike to get “on track.”

About the Author

Rick Laubscher is a fourth-generation San Franciscan who fell in love with streetcars as a child, when his mother took him downtown on an “iron monster” through the Twin Peaks to see the circus. He worked as a broadcast reporter in San Francisco, then as a corporate executive, where he began his advocacy for vintage streetcar service. He now operates his own strategic communications consultancy, Messagesmith, and serves as president of the nonprofit Market Street Railway.