There are a lot of uniquely San Francisco things to do in the City by the Bay, but if there’s one quintessential transportation experience, it’s riding the cable cars.
The lines are long, the ride is fairly short, and for the distance covered, it’s kind of an expensive way to get from here to there ($5 isn’t too bad, but still more than you’d pay for other public transportation). But not many National Historic Landmarks move, and for the historical value and fun of it, it’s definitely worth taking a ride. I think hanging off the side is the only way to go, but there are also plenty of seats for those who aren’t excited about sucking in their stomachs every time a car passes.
While the cable cars have always been beloved, they have been in danger. The city government tried to get rid of them in the 1940s, and back in the early ’80s, they were in such disrepair that it would require $60 million and 20 months to get them back to operational. Fortunately for the iconic landmark, the City of San Francisco raised $10 million from the private sector alone, the federal government aided the project with a $46.5 million contribution, and the State of California added $3.6 million, among smaller donations worldwide.
And so today they live on, boasting an impressive set of numbers:
Speed: 9.5 mph
No. of cars in service: 41
Carrying capacity per car: 60-plus
Passengers each year: 7.5 million
For more information about San Francisco’s cable cars and to see the routes, visit www.sfcablecar.com.