Cable Cars, San Francisco
Cable Car - it's not just another boring tourist attraction, it's a lot of fun indeed! :)
When I was there going around with my bike, just couldn't resist and made a little tour with the Cable Car.
Make sure to check the drivers post as well. And see if you are lucky enough, cause our driver was even singing! :)
You HAVE to ride the cable car atleast once in San Francisco. They are soooo much fun and only cost $3.00 and they bring you from fishermans warf all the way to the shopping district, back and around. They are totally neat, old fashioned and I had a great time on them. The first day I never took one and walked forever (3 hours) around San Fran, so the cable cars definatley are not only time savers, but feet savers.
My guidebook said over and over and over that you simply must ride a cable car while in San Francisco. So on the day when we had a MUNI pass we went to take the Powell & Hyde cable car from Fisherman's Wharf and the line snaked around the corner and down the street. We were a little pressed for time so we went to the start of the Powell & Mason lines a few blocks away and while the line was a bit more manageable, the speed at which they load the cars isn't exactly lightening fast. So when they called out that there was a car just going to Chinatown we hopped ahead of the queue and got on that one, luckily there was one right behind us going all the way to Market Street that we hopped on in Chinatown. Later that evening, the queues were shorter and we took another one back to our hotel.
It is a fun thing to do, just don't expect to use it for regular transportation as the queues can be extremely long. Each ride is $5 but if you have a MUNI pass it's included on that and you could ride as many as you want while you have the pass. If you catch it at one of the end points, you can watch as they still manually turn the cars around
You can't go to San Francisco and NOT ride on a cable car - but if you plan to pick up a ride at Union Square, expect long lines. There are actually four cable car lines, so if you just want to ride one for the experience, you could take a bus or walk to a less touristy line than the Market Street - Fisherman's Wharf route. The traffic island stop actually on Union Square was referred to as "Fantasy Island" by the operator, as people who wait there can only dream of finding a seat...
It costs $3 to ride the cable car - all other MUNI modes of transportation cost $1.25. Cable car fares are included in a MUNI pass (we got the 3 days for $15 deal - but actually we would have broken about even just paying as we went and getting transfers).
Also be sure, if you're hanging on the side like I was, to keep all bags, purses, backpacks and heads close in. The cable cars can't swerve, and moving traffic and parked vehicles come pretty close!
The cable car system is a great way to see this great city! You are up close and personal with the sights, delivered exactly where you want to be, can hop on and off, stay all day!! I highly recommend at least one "leg" of a trip on a San Francisco Cable Car!
For fares, go to:http://www.sfmuni.com/cms/mms/fares/fareinfo.htm#cable
Cable cars first came into public service in 1873. I used them quite a lot as they were a good way to get round the city & fun to ride.
Today there are three cable car routes in operation. Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde both start at the turntable at Powell and Market streets. The Powell-Mason line goes to Bay Street at Fisherman's Wharf. The Powell-Hyde line goes to Aquatic Park near to Ghirardelli Square. The California Street line runs from the Financial District through Chinatown to Van Ness Avenue.
The cable cars run seven days a week. Tickets can be purchased at tunarounds or from the conductor. Pre-paid passes are also accepted. You can board at either end of the route or at various stops on the way.
Enjoy a ride on San Francisco's downtown Cable Car system. These trolleys run a number of routes in the the main part of San Francisco and give you the chance for a different perspective on the city. It is kind of fun to pack yourself into these single-car vehicles as they clank their way up and down the hills of the city! For a $2 fare, ours took us from the Powell St. station up and down the intervening hills to a stop only a couple of blocks from Fisherman's Wharf, with the driver all the while shouting out his funny little ditties about the city and warning passengers hanging onto the sides to watch out for such and such danger coming up! These cars swing themselves around at the end of their ride on a 'round-table' just like a railway locomotive.
Most folks want to ride a car when they visit so they can get pretty crowded(just see the queues on Market St in the summer). However the California St line is a lot less crowded and may be a good choice if all you want to do is get a ride. It runs from Van Ness down to near the Port area and from there you can get ferries across the bay to places like Sausalito.
San Francisco is famous for its cable cars which go up and down the hills. They are great fun to travel on and is certainly a must do part of anybodies first time in the city. We certainly had a good time on them.
We bought a three day MUNI passport before we got on one of the cable cars as this saved us time, money and hassle in getting on and off.
If you want to get from A to B in a hurry then maybe there not the quickest, but for a fun way to save your legs on a short journey then they're great.
If you go to Powell Street or Hyde then you San watch as the drivers turn the cars around manually on the end line turntables. The queues to get onto the cars at these two terminals can be huge and you may have to wait for over an hour before finally getting a place.
For a local person the cable cars are no longer an efficient mean of transportation. In the last five years I must have taken a cable car at most five times. The reason for this is that it make take a long time to get somewhere. The cars are completely packed during high seasons and at the end stops the lines are very long. It's also more than double the price of the rest of public transportation. Cable cars cost about $3 one-way while taking a bus, a tram or the subway costs $1.25 and you're allowed one transfer (a total of two rides). But if you're a tourist, you should definitely try this one, it's a really nice ride. Plus it connects many of the tourist attractions (like downtown to Fisherman's Wharf by Lombard Street). You can purchase a ticket on board or from booths at the end of the lines, where the turntables are. Like I said, at the end of the tracks there's usually a line, so I prefer to board a few stops from the end of the line. But it's fun to be at the end stops when they turn the cable car around. Presently there's only three lines in operation (Powell-Mason, Powell-Hyde, and California Street). California Street is less crowded (and more spectacular in my opinion).
The cable cars are a true pleasure. They are convenient (especially when you need to go up a hill) and it is enjoyable to stand on the outside of it while you ride. Even if it's out of your way, make sure to go to the end of one of the lines to watch a turnaround - there's one fairly close to Fisherman's Wharf so you could always walk to it.
For us toursts, San Francisco cable cars are not a means of transportation but a tourist attraction, one of the things one has to "see" if they go to the City by the Bay. They also provide transportation to many of the city’s most popular areas. Drivers are pretty nice so they can help you get wherever you want to go.
There seem to be three different routes but I didn't become familiar with them. Anybody can tell you how they work, but just don't take a different each time you get up or you'll get lost.
Buy tickets for the San Francisco cable cars at the turnarounds or from the conductor as you board. There are no transfers. You have to pay again every time you ride. If you plan to make more than two rides a day and visit a few attractions, buy a Muni PASSPORT. A daily passport is 11 USD and a monthly passport is 45 USD, with those you can use it or any other city bus as many times as you want.
The cable cars run from about 6 AM to about 1 AM.
Get on board and enjoy a piece of San Francisco History!
San Francisco wouldn't be the same without it's famous cable cars. And no trip to the City by the Bay is complete until you've ridden one. No other city on earth has a transportation system quite like it. The cable cars are not only used by tourists, but are a very real and practical means of transportation up and over the hills and down the streets of the city. It doesn't really matter where you go. Just the experience of riding "halfway to the stars," will be one of your most enduring memories of San Francisco.
The web site is an excellent place to learn more about the cable cars before you ride.
While the cable cars are cheaper ($2.00) and have the scenic flavor of San Francisco they are also very very slow ! Due to frequent stops and inability to manuever off the tracks they seem to catch every red light. I actually beat one in mile-long race... walking, with a backpack, uphill.
So if you are in a hurry, or need to be somewhere on time, walk or take a cab. Riding in a cab, however, is akin to riding a rollercoaster... So if you panic easily, take the cable car.
Actually a moving landmark in san Francisco, Cable Cars, living relics of the early 1900's, are in the imaginary of many people come to this town.
It appears obvious that a trip on them cannot be missed BUT beware!
The main problem here is the ridiculous wait of about one hour I had in Ghirardelli Square to get this.
A looong looong queue, and the officers are very slow in moving those cars.