Cable Cars, which vie with the Golden Gate Bridge as the symbol of San Francisco, are an irresistible way to see the city. Dress warmly and you can ride outside, catching visual treats that motorists routinely miss. Unlimited 7 days of Cable Cars (and other MUNI transportation) is included as part of a CITYPASS purchase. See the CITYPASS page on this site for more information.
There are three different Cable Car lines:
* Powell & Hyde: Powell & Market via Powell, Jackson, Hyde to Beach (Victorian Park). RETURN Hyde, Washington, Powell to Market.
* Powell & Mason: Powell & Market via Powell, Jackson, Mason, Columbus, Taylor to Bay (Fisherman's Wharf). RETURN Taylor, Columbus, Mason, Washington, Powell to Market.
* California: California & Market via California to Van Ness. RETURN California to Market.
How Cable Cars Work:
The cable car is pulled on rails by latching onto a moving cable inside a channel beneath the street. The cable is guided by an intricate system of pulleys and sheaves (large pulleys). At the powerhouse, huge winding wheels driven by 510 horsepower electric motors pull cable loops at a constant speed of 9.5 miles per hour.
Through a slot in the street the car grabs the cable with a big vice-like lever mechanism called a grip. To start the car, the gripman pulls back on the lever which closes the grip around the cable. To stop the car, the gripman releases the grip and applies the brakes.
Each cable car has 3 types of brake systems: wheel brakes place pressure directly on the wheels with steel brake shoes, track brakes which are 2 foot long pieces of Monterey pine mounted between each of the wheel sets that press down on the track, and a slot brake - an 18 inch steel wedge that gets jammed into the the street slot to bring the car to a sudden stop (for emergencies only).
SF Municipal Railway (Muni) maintains the current fleet of 28 Powell St. cars and 12 California St. cars.
The California St. cars are double open-ended and have 2 grips - one at each end. To change direction on the California Street line, the car crosses over to the opposing track and the gripman uses the grip at the other end of the car. This type of double ended car has been used on California Street since 1891 when Leland Stanford's California Street Cable Railroad ( Cal Cable) began replacing their 2-car trains.
The Powell St. cars have one open grip end. There are turntables built into the street to turn the the car around at the ends of the Powell-Mason and the Powell-Hyde lines. This type of car was developed in the early 1880's by Henry Root for the Market Street Cable Railway. Called the "combination car" it combined the open grip dummy and closed car train into one car. The Ferries and Cliff House Railway began service on the Powell-Mason line in 1888. Some of the original F&CH cars (extensively rebuilt) are still in use today.
Cable Car Fares - No transfers/fare receipts accepted or issued
Adult & Youth (ages 5-17):
$6.00 each way
Senior (ages 65+) & Disabled:
Before 7 a.m.: $5.00 each way (valid ID required)
7 a.m. to 9 p.m.: $4.00 each way
Aafter 9 p.m.: $1.00 each way (valid ID required)
Monthly passes and Passports are valid on cable cars. Weekly passes require a payment of $1. Tokens require an additional payment of $2 (no savings).
Cable car tickets and one-day Muni passes are sold by the conductors on the cable cars. The conductors can make change for up to $20.
Cable Car Collector Series Souvenir Cards
Limited edition souvenir cable car tickets are available for $6.00 at ticket booths located at Powell and Market Streets and at Hyde and Beach Streets. They're also available at Muni's Revenue window at 949 Presidio Ave., Room 103 and at the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau at 900 Market St. (Hallidie Plaza, at Powell and Market Streets) and online through the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Each Cable Car Souvenir Collectible Card has two parts: a souvenir card of historical San Francisco, and a ticket good for the face value toward a one-way cable car trip. Ride San Francisco's world famous cable cars for the regular cable car fare and keep the collectible card as a souvenir. Four historic cable car scenes dating from 1879 to 1905 are available. This is a limited edition ticket series--only 375,000 individually numbered cards will be printed of each series. When they run out, these series numbers will be taken out of circulation.
Cable Car Schedules:
- Powel Hyde Street Cable Car SChedule: Off Site Link to Schedule
- Powell Mason Cable Car Schedule: Off Site Link to Schedule
- California Cable Car Schedule: Off Site Link to Schedule
Cable Car Museum: Official Cable Car Museum Web Site
Cable Car Museum listed as one of the "World's Top Ten Free Attractions"
Travel expert Arthur Frommer and the Budget Rent-A-Car Company and have picked the San Francisco Municipal Railway's Cable Car Museum as one of the top ten free attractions in the world. The museum is at the cable car barn at Washington and Mason Streets in San Francisco. Special areas above and below allow excellent views of the huge drive wheels and the electric motors which move the cables used to propel the cable cars. There are also historical displays on San Francisco's cable cars, as well as actual cable cars that operated in 19th-century San Francisco, including a car that ran on Andrew Smith Hallidie's Clay Street Hill Cable Railroad, the world's first successful cable car line.
The Cable Car Museum was established in 1974. It is operated by the Friends of the Cable Car Museum as a nonprofit educational facility.
Located in the historic Washington/Mason cable car barn and powerhouse, the museum deck overlooks the huge engines and winding wheels that pull the cables. Downstairs is a viewing area of the large sheaves and cable line entering the building through the channel under the street.
On display are various mechanical devices such as grips, track, cable, brake mechanisms, tools, detailed models, and a large collection of historic photographs.
The museum houses three antique cable cars from the 1870s. The Sutter Street Railway No. 46 grip car & No. 54 trailer and the only surviving car from the first cable car company, the Clay Street Hill Railroad No. 8 grip car.
The museum store offers a variety of cable car memorabilia, books, clothing, cards and even genuine cable car bells!
Address: Cable Car Museum
1201 Mason Street
San Francisco, CA 94108
Hours: 10 am - 6 pm
- April 1 thru September 30
- 10 am - 5 pm
October 1 thru March 31
Open every day except New Year's Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Admission is Free.
Phone: (415) 474-1887
Access: Ramp and elevator for disabled visitors are located on the Washington Street side of building. Please contact museum staff for additional assistance. Ride the cable cars! The cable car routes are the Powell-Hyde line, the Powell-Mason line and the California line. Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason lines stop at the museum. On the California line get off at Mason Street (by the Fairmont Hotel), the museum is 3 blocks north.
Information provided by sfmuni.com and cablecar.org
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