#320: Ride a San Francisco Cable Car


LOCATION: Powell-Mason Cable Car Line. San Francisco, California.

This post is part of my San Diego/San Francisco trip series.

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I was in San   Francisco once before in 2011 and saw plenty of cable cars. I never really knew the importance of them until after I left. The San Francisco cable car is the world’s last manually operated cable car system. It originated in 1873 and boomed into 23 cable car lines representing the city. Now, due to increasing costs to maintain and technology advancements, it is now down to 3 lines; the Powell-Mason line, the Powell-Hyde line, and the California line.

Running the cables in the Powerhouse

Running the cables in the Powerhouse



All car cables originate in the Powerhouse, which is also the cable car museum. It just wouldn’t be San Francisco without a ride on one of these!

Troy and I found one of the lines and we were determined to ride. The Powell-Hyde line heading to Fisherman’s Wharf seemed to be the popular one to go on because two cars passed us by completely full. cablecar8We walked over to the Powell-Mason line to try our luck there instead. Luckily, we were able to get on, but were squished like sardines in the middle of the car the entire ride. The ride was a steady 9.5 mph (hold on tight!)

Being crammed in while riding the cable car

Being crammed in while riding the cable car

Going up steep hills proved to be very interesting and I felt like I was going to fall at one point on the way down. The guy that controls the car is called a gripman and apparently he has one tough job! The job is so hard, that only 30% pass the course. The gripman has to grip the cables into the track in the road at certain points to coast the car or to go over crossing cables and through traffic. Being a large city with crazy traffic, I can see why the job is so demanding.cablecar3

After about a 15 minute ride, we reached the end of the Powell-Mason line. It was the end of the road for everyone since they had to turn the car around.

Turning the Cable Car around

Turning the Cable Car around

To do this, they moved the car to a turnstile and manually walked the car around to face the other direction. It was pretty interesting to see. San Francisco’s cable car experience is definitely not one to miss!

*Thank you Troy for accompanying me on this adventure.

WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? Yes, this was fun. Slow and pricey…but fun!

HOW TO DO THIS: There are purple signs along the track where they make stops. Wait for one and pay with cash only. $6 per ride, or $14 for unlimited day use.


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