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Cable cars remained the primary mode of transportation for over 30 years, until the earthquake and the fires that destroyed most of the cable car system. As the City rebuilt, few lines were restored; a municipal railway replaced most lines. Cable cars aren't just for tourists! They are an integral part of the City's public transit system.

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There are three cable car lines in operation, route names appear on the front, back and roof of each car:. Next: Deluxe Bus 3.


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Cable Car on Hyde Street. Cabe Car Cresting Hyde Street. Cable Cars Crossing on California Street. Cable car at Victoria Park. Maroon and white signs mark stops.

San Francisco Cable Car | Free Tours by Foot

If there is no sign, a yellow band is painted between the rails. When getting on mid-route, wait on the sidewalk and wave to alert the gripman to stop. Board on either side when the car has stopped. If a car is full wait for the next one.

How It Works: Powerhouse/Car Barn Visit, Cable Car Controls, Buying Tickets

Keep clear of the the gripman. These tickets are valid for a single ride. These tickets give you unlimited rides on the cable cars and other transportation modes Muni, Muni Metro, and historic streetcars. One of the most common discounts is to stores at Ghirardelli Square.

3-Day Cable Car and Muni Bus Passport

So head over to the Powell-Hyde line and then hop over to Ghirardelli for a delicious ice cream sundae after your ride! The cable cars begin running around am and they run until about AM. The schedule varies throughout the day, but you can get the exact timing of departure for each route by looking at the San Francisco MTA schedule page. Riding a cable car is somewhere between riding an open-air bus and taking a roller coaster ride but a slow roller coaster!

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Many people prefer to sit down for a more comfortable ride although the wooden benches are pretty hard, and the cable car does bounce around a bit. Other people prefer to stand up and hold onto the poles to make the ride a little more exciting, especially as the car goes up and down the steep San Francisco hills.


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Before cable cars were invented, the only form of mass transit was horse-drawn trolleys. But San Francisco is well known for its steep hills. The cable car runs on a track that is connected to a cable line, thus all the movement of the cars comes from the tracks and below. The streetcar runs on tracks as well but has an electrical pole on top connecting it to a wire, its main source of power.


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The San Francisco Cable Car looks like this:. The San Francisco Streetcar looks like this:.