Though San Francisco is a pleasure to walk around, there is an extensive mass transit system for those lacking the fitness to do it all on foot or for the longer hauls that would take too much time. BART is more or less a commuter train that runs to the suburbs and conveniently to the SF International Airport. This twenty minute run costs just $4.95 one way and runs three times an hour in peak hours. You can get tickets at automated machines before you board. You can also get out to Berkeley for a couple bucks. MUNI is a more extensive system of buses and trams that really get you into the meat of the city. It costs just $1.50 and you get a transfer for between 90 minutes and three hours depending on the generosity of the driver. The cable cars have become a bit of a tourist trap unfortunately. They are an amazing piece of time warp travel and everyone that visits has to ride one once. You can also visit the Cable Car Museum for free and it’s well worth your time. To ride one, it cost $5.00 per segment! If you think you’ll use them even just twice, buy the day pass for $10.00 and enjoy. There are numerous mass transit passes but unfortunately none of the affordable ones include the Cable Cars so I didn’t find them worthwhile. If you’re going to walk most places, which is easy enough to do, it’s better to just buy a bus ticket for when you need it as that is how you’ll get to the more remote areas of the city.
There has been some confusion about the number of Cable Car lines still running, so check out the link below for a map and explanations about the routes. This is the system in short. The larger two brake double open-ended California line runs from the Financial District to Van Ness. This line is more likely to have local commuters with whom one can chat, but the views are fewer and there aren't any hair raising turns. The other two lines run up Powell toward Fisherman's Wharf. Most tourists will want the Powell-Hyde Street line because that takes one right to the cable car turn around at the Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory. But, both lines have some excellent rises, descents, and great hair raising turns. On weekends, it's often easier to walk around the city and then use the cable car as a return to the foot of Powell, often for free. Unless the car is standing room only, it's pretty easy to climb on anywhere along the route. I find the downhill and curves the best part of the ride anyway, but for those only visiting once in a generation, take a complete ride. These cars are truely unique antique transportation. When visiting the Cable Car Museum, be sure to go down the steps and watch the pulleys moving the cables under the street. Many visitors to the museum don't go down the stairwell.
Most people who come to San Francisco do not know that there are two different cable car systems. One, the usual tourist known one, starts at Union Square, which is in the center of downtown. The second starts at California and Market Street. I take all my out of town friends to the second one as it is always least crowded. Also this second cable car, connects with the tourist know one, Powell street at the top of the hill. Therefore, you can get off at the top, and change to the other one and go down to Fishermans' Wharf.
Also, at the top of the hill you can get off and visit Chinatown. Best part of that is that you are walking downhill.
A BIG TIP: At the beginning--when you are getting ready for the cable car to come for boarders, stand at the point where you will be at the front of the car. That way you can stand or sit on the outside for a better view and for camera shots.
Most of the people who ride the Cable Cars are tourists. Locals don't bother with the expense. They use the bus system, which is pretty good, except it is not a cable car.
While on the car, ask the brakeman about the cable car museum. This museum is free and is along the route of the Powell Car. It is near Chinatown. So you can take a quick look and go have some authentic Chinese cuisine.
The Cable Cars ,in San Francisco are a unique thing and they are the only railway in the street where the cars are not powered on their own .
Under the rails there is a large cable that is powered and moved by a central powerhouse and this cable underneath continuous moves and the Cable Car then is '' Gripping '' on to this Cable.
Then a '' Gripman '' controls the movement and the speed of the Cable Car which I will show later in another picture.
It is all wonderful to watch this and amazing how this'' Gripman '' then controls his Cable Car.Very very interesting to see all this
DO NOT MISS a CABLE CAR ride when in San Francisco.
In this picture the Cable Car is at the '' Turnaround at Powell & Market street the route goes down to '' Fishermans Wharf ''
It goes back up ,then gets turned around .
In this picture you see the Powell & Hyde
Cable Car.There are two lines ,one is the Powell & Hyde ,and the other the Powell & Mason Cable car
The Powell /Mason line begins at Powell & Market streets runs North to Bay street via Powell ,Jackson.Columbes & Bay streets.
This line was built in 1888.
The Powell /Hyde line begins at Powell & Market streets and runs Nort and West to Hyde and Beach streetsvia Powell ,Jackson,& Hyde streets.
This line was created in 1957.
In this picture you see a Powell & Hyde Cable Car and you can see how the people ride in these Cable Cars ,they fill them to the Rim there of course are seats but when the sets are filled then you fins a spot on the running boards seems odd and a bit unsafe ,but people love it (including Hansi ) .
The '' Gripman '' is in charge and he decides how many people get on board .
Reallly COOLLL stuff.
This gentleman is called the '' Gripman ''This person is responsible for the passengers in the Cable Car.He oversees how many get on and also of course controls the stop and go of the Cable Car using these long handles that go underneath the Cable Car .
I do not know excactly how ,I do know that is was noisy and very tough job to do.
I was amazing to see how steep the streets were up and down.
Cable Car transportation in San Franciso are both fun and inexpensive.The cost is $3.00 per person one way and $6.00 per person return. I paid for our return tickets ahead of time so as not to have to wait in line again on the way back. While I got in line for the tickets, Hans got in line for the cable cars, which were quite long on the day we went. the tickets were on a collector series card telling about the history of the cable car which you can keep as a souvenir. The conducter simply takes the part of the ticket which says $3.00. All in all it was a fun way to get around San Francisco.
very unique to get around SanFran, the Cable Cars and they are powered by cables who run under the tracks, I suppose thats where they got their name from.
you have to ride them its fun and beats walking and running the streets up and down. and not only the tourist rides them, the locals do so too and an oppertunity to get the know them.
learn more about them on their website
I'm putting this tip in the Transportation category, but it could just as well go in the Things to do one because riding the San Francisco cable car is a really fun and unique experience! We rode the Powell-Hyde line, which runs between the Powell/Market turntable and the Fisherman's Wharf area. Even though we got to the turntable early in the morning there was still a pretty long line-up, but it moved fairly fast and time went by quickly by watching the gripmen and conductors turn the cable car around at the end of the line by pushing it on the turntable. There also was a really good street musician entertaining us with such classics as Otis Redding's "Dock of the Bay" :o) We managed to score a great spot on the cable car: we were standing up at the front, holding on to a pole - the view was incredible and it was so much fun!
Since we only rode the cable car once, we paid the fare ($5) directly to the conductor, but if you get a Muni daily or weekly pass, it allows you to ride the cable car as many times as you want.
This might be downright sacrilege to write, but the San Francisco Cable Cars are one of the biggest ripoffs in the city. All trips are $5 no matter how far your journey...one block or the length of the route. The longest route is perhaps 2 miles and takes about 15-20 minute to ride end to end. You probably want to ride just once to say you did it, bit the Cable Car is not how you want to get from place to place in the city. The only good deal with the Cable Cars is their inclusion in the Monthly, 7-Day, and 3-Day Muni passes.
If you just want to get around town the Muni covers much, much more of the city and regular fares are just $1.50. The BART is another great option, but only runs up and down Market Street in San Francisco and is a little more expensive.
The Cable Cars are famous for a reason... this is the last remaining permanent, manually operated cable car system in the world, and began full operation in 1873 on Clay Street. The cable cars operate by gripping a steel cable loop that constantly runs between the tracks below the surface of the street at a steady 9.5 MPH, ideal for transiting the city's steep, often wet hills. The 1906 earthquake brought a major decline to the industry as many lines were replaced with electric streetcars, except the steepest routes. There are three of perhaps 15 original cable car routes still in existence: California Street, Powell-Hyde, and Powell-Mason lines, with the California Street line being the oldest still in existence, first opening in 1878.
Yes, I have ridden the cable cars once. I was one of the lucky 40 percent who get a free trip by jumping on in the middle of the route rather than at the end of a line. Wonder why these babies are always packed? This is the fifth largest tourist attraction in San Francisco after the Golden Gate Bridge, Fishermans Wharf, Chinatown, and Union Square.
"To be where little cable cars, climb halfway to the stars....."
The cable cars are probably one of the number one tourist stops in San Francisco. As a result the lines can be very long! There are three Cable Car lines. Two originate at Powell and Market. One goes to the park near Ghiradelli Square (Hyde). The other veers off and winds up closer to Fisherman's Wharf (Bay). These are the most popular because they are what you think of when you wind steeply up hill and veer madly to the left and right. You're likely to wait upwards of an hour or two just to board. (While you can board anywhere along the cable car line, good luck getting a place to hang on to!)
Here's a secret. If you just want the experience of riding one of these cars, take the California Street line. You can board at the Embarcadero, right in front of the Hyatt Regency and ride all the way to Van Ness Avenue. You'll go up over Nob Hill, past China Town and the Bank of America Buildings, right by Glide Memorial Church, Past the Mayor's residence, and some of the more magificent buildings in the City. And you won't have to stand in line!
San Francisco Cable Cars are one of the biggest attractions in the city. A lot has been said about it, so I`ll just stick to some useful information.
HISTORY: To learn more about cable cars you can go to Cable Car Museum on 1201 Mason at Washington Street.
LINES: There are 3 routs you can take to ride SF cable car.
- California Line which runs on California Street all the way from Drumm to Van Ness;
- Powell-Mason Line which runs on Powell and then Mason Streets;
- Powell-Hyde Line which runs on Powell and then Hyde Street passing the crookedest Lombard Street on its right. Its the most popular line.
HOURS: 6am to 1am.
FREQUENCY: About 3 times an hour during the peak times.
BOARDING: If you want to ride the Powell-Hyde Line from the very beginning, go to Powell at Market Street. It`s hard to miss - there are always crowds of people waiting for their turn and watching how the car is rotated. If you do not care where to catch it, then any intersection with rails on it will do (that will be Powell, Mason and Hyde Streets accordingly). Just wait for car and hop on it when it stops.
PRICE: $5 per person. There are no return tickets. Every time you hop on a car, you have to pay. There is a way to save some money if you plan on riding more than twice - buying a Passport (1-Day Passport will cost you $11; 3-Days Passport will be $15 and 7-Days Passport will empty your wallet for $24). These Passports will also give you an unlimited access to all MUNI transportation within the city as well as discounted entrances to some of the SF attractions.
BUYING TICKETS: From the conductor or at the Visitor`s Information office at Powell/Market.
CAPACITY: About 60 people.
Right outside the lobby of my favorite hotel (Hyatt Regency)
at the confluence / intersection of Market, Drumm & California is where California street originates and the California St. cable car starts its climb up to and over Nob Hill.
Costs about $3 for a ticket.
Heading west up California it intersects up on Nob hill by Chinatown with the North/South Powell Street cable car that runs from Market St./ Union Square down to the North bay / Ghiradelli / Fisherman's wharf.
Almost always packed, painfully slow, but very pleasing.
C'mon, we're tourists in the best city in America, you have to ride the cable cars. It's fun & it beats walking all the way up the hill.
This is the best way to experience San Francisco, overcome the steep slopes, see phenomenal views, & have fun with the driver.
The drivers are the funniest and friendest group I have yet to encounter that drives transit. The best view would be when the street car is traveling downhill towards Fisherman's Wharf. The setting looked like it came out of a dream, one that I could enjoy everyday. Lucky San Franciscans .