On Track: A Field Guide to San Francisco’s Streetcars and Cable Cars | Mechanics' Institute

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On Track: A Field Guide to San Francisco’s Streetcars and Cable Cars
Rick Laubscher in conversation with Ratna Amin

Photograph of Rick Laubscher

An evening with author Rick Laubscher with guest speaker Ratna Amin, Transportation Policy Director, San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research (SPUR).

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 are a unique fleet of traveling museums. Part travel guide, part civic and engineering history, this lively book provides the remarkable stories behind each vehicle and examines the impact the fleet has on San Francisco’s infrastructure and demographics.

Book cover of On TrackDetailed illustrations and specs accompany the description of each vehicle. On Track also shows riders how to get the most enjoyment out of this unique transportation system from avoiding long lines and choosing the best seats, to suggestions for several ride-and-walk tours that cover the City’s great sites.

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.

Photograph of Ratna AminRatna Amin leads SPUR's work to create a high quality transportation system in San Francisco, San Jose and the Bay Area region. Her areas of focus include transit agencies and service, infrastructure planning and sustainable transportation.

Prior to joining SPUR, Ratna worked in the policy areas of transportation, education and local government. She has also worked with many local public agencies and social sector organizations on leadership development, strategic planning and communications. Her previous roles include chief of staff to the Oakland City Council president, senior associate at Environmental Science Associates and analyst at Cambridge Systematics.

Ratna has master’s degrees in city and regional planning and transportation engineering from the University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. She is an alumnus of the San Francisco Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs and Teach for America. She has a particular interest in organizational development, civic technology, design and lean government and is trained in strategic visioning, graphic facilitation and scenario planning.

Cosponsored by Market Street Railway and SPUR.

Meet the Author(s)

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Members of Market Street Railway Free
Members of SPUR Free
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