On Friday morning, despite ominous rain clouds overhead, a crowd of excited tourists filled the Powell Street cable car plaza, standing patiently to board The City’s moving landmarks in a line that extended an entire block.
Today, that same scene will look much different.
For the first time in 27 years, all three of The City’s cable car lines will be simultaneously undergoing maintenance work, shutting down most service on the vintage vehicles.
The Powell-Mason line will be completely down until Friday due to needed repairs. The California Street line has been out of service since January and isn’t scheduled to reopen till June.
The only line in service this week will be the Powell-Hyde, but that route will not be loading or unloading at Powell Street. It will only operate between Ghirardelli Square and the Cable Car Museum in Nob Hill. Muni will operate bus shuttles along the routes while the cable cars are shut down.
Along with the Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf, the cable cars are some of the most popular tourist draws in San Francisco.
New York resident Kristine Brennan, who was visiting San Francisco for the first time last week, said not being able to travel on the cable cars would be “a total bummer.”
“The cable cars are one of the top attractions in San Francisco, and they’re also a great way to see The City,” said Brennan, who rode the vehicles for the first time Friday. “I would have missed out on, like, 1,900 photos if I didn’t get a chance to ride them.”
This week is shaping up to be a busy one for visitors in The City. More than 7,000 people are expected to attend the weeklong Web 2.0 Expo at the Moscone Center. The Giants and A’s square off today in an exhibition matchup that’s the first game played at AT&T Park since the World Series.
Joe D’Alessandro, the president of city tourism board the San Francisco Travel Association, said his organization has been in touch with various hotel and convention groups to have them notify visitors about the upcoming cable car closures. D’Alessandro said the shutdowns shouldn’t have a major effect on tourism.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, said the cable car work is essential to make the vehicles more reliable, efficient and safe. While the vehicles are out of service, passengers will be able to travel on buses for $2, instead of the $5 fare normally charged for cable cars.
Maintenance schedule for cable cars:
March 28–April 1: Cable car service will only be available on the Powell-Hyde line between Ghirardelli Square and the Cable Car Museum at Mason and Jackson streets.
April 25–29: Cable car service will only be available on the Powell-Hyde line between Powell Street plaza and the Cable Car Museum.
June 1–5: All cable cars will be out of service.
A ride through history
6,578 Daily ridership on the Powell-Mason cable car line
10,905 Daily ridership on Powell-Hyde line
6,596 Daily ridership on California Street line