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Cable cars may go cashless in 2019

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The SFMTA hopes to have a cashless fare system for cable cars by 2019. (Daniel Kim/Special to S.F. Examiner)

The City has revealed when the iconic cable car could go cashless: 2019.

That’s according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which discussed the matter at its regular Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday.

The agency also discussed the move to go cashless in April 2017 after two cable car operators were arrested for allegedly stealing cash aboard the historic vehicles. Investigators found $32,000 in a safe at the home of one of the operators, David Reyes, who police saw pocketing $450 on cable cars over two months.

At the Tuesday meeting, Diana Hammons, revenue manager at the SFMTA, told the board that cable cars would go cashless soon.

“We’re working to develop a budget, resources, what that would look like, really enhancing our relationships with the tourism industry and hotels,” she said.

She added that 18 to 24 months until deployment is “going to be our goal.”

Hammons laid out the timeline to the Board of Directors in a presentation: by Spring 2018, the SFMTA will require pre-paid fares for boarding at cable car turnarounds during hours when ticket kiosks are open.

Between Fall 2018 and Summer 2019, the SFMTA will begin installing signage at all cable car stops and implement a “comprehensive communications and marketing plan.”

And by Fall 2019, the agency will “require pre-paid fares for all cable car boardings.”

SFMTA Board of Directors Chair Cheryl Brinkman told Hammons that the work by staff on cable car payments is “wonderful.”

Brinkman added, “moving to cashless cable cars is something we all support.”

It’s not the first time The City has considered making cable cars cashless. Former mayor Gavin Newsom supported the move in 2006 after similar incidents of cable car operators pocketing cash.

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