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

Muni may slash California Cable Car late night service used by local workers

The California Cable Car line may soon see its hours slashed, which has drawn the opposition of cable car operators and politicians alike who say local late-night workers would be stranded, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

The line ends its run at 1 a.m., but the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency may soon cut the end of the run to 11:45 p.m. Each day, the line runs cable cars from the Financial District, up and over Nob Hill, to Van Ness Avenue and California Street.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, whose Chinatown and North Beach constituents use the nearby line, is against the move to slash hours.

“This is a mode of transportation recognized around the world, beloved by tourists, but is the backbone of local transportation in the north east corner of San Francisco,” Peskin told the Examiner.

He called the move to slash the iconic cable car line’s hours “bizarre.”

The SFMTA said the ridership numbers show fewer riders in the late hours of the night in justifying the cuts.

But Muni operators have long known the California Cable Car line serves a healthy dose of locals, as opposed to other cable car lines, like Powell, which mainly attracts tourists.

Rafael Cabrera has operated Muni vehicles for 38 years, but for the last six he’s been a cable car conductor. Cabrera acknowledged there are fewer riders late at night, but said those riders especially depend on cable cars to get home.

“Usually, it’s the people who got off of work at the Hyatt Regency, and the other hotels around the area,” including janitors, he said. “Folks working as dishwashers and cooks, they don’t have the means to call Uber or take a taxi.”

Because the reduction of the California Cable Car line may leave those more impoverished workers stranded, Cabrera said, “as far as I’m concerned, that’s not right.”

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