SF's iconic cable cars are set to return to limited service in August, and both locals and tourists will be able to ride them for free for the entire month.
Mayor London Breed announced the free cable car rides at a press event Tuesday morning, coinciding with the lifting of capacity limits and mask rules across the state. Breed said the cable cars weren't returning to service as quickly as she would have liked, but she praised SFMTA chief Jeffrey Tumlin for coming up with a "creative solution" to allow riders back on the cable cars a bit earlier.
As KPIX reports, when she was told that the cable cars couldn't come back online until the fall, Breed said, "I didn’t want to hear it." She stresses that the city can't appear fully back to life without the cable cars running.
"We want people to have great experiences in San Francisco and nothing says San Francisco like a cable car ride, rolling up and down the hills," Breed said, per NBC Bay Area.
She continued, "As we begin to reopen, things like our cable cars and other great things that exist in San Francisco will continue to be available. This week is the perfect week for people to visit our city. Everyone in this city and in the Bay Area we have to thank for where we are today. We got through this, we helped to save lives, and we should be so proud of the work we did. Now is time to take advantage of the fact that our city is reopening to people."
Tumlin explained that before the cable cars return to full service in September, testing of the system will have to take place, beginning in mid-July. Then in early August, passenger testing will begin, and that's when the public will be welcomed back onto the cable cars — primarily the Powell-Hyde line — for free.
"We're actually inviting the public to come join us for operator training," Tumlin said, per NBC. "To a certain degree, we kind of need your help. Normally, we would fill the cable cars with sandbags in order to actually test the weight. But actual people are a far better test."
He cautioned, though, that everyone would need to be patient and understand that this is a testing phase and not full service. "We're not going to be running on a perfect schedule," Tumlin said. "We're going to be focused on the Powell-Hyde line. We'll be randomly opening other lines. It's going to be a little rough, but it's going to be awesome and we're so excited to be offering this."
Breed and Supervisor Myrna Melgar previously orchestrated an early opening for the K-Ingleside Muni Metro line, which came back in service on May 15. Tumlin had previously said that the trains, with the exception of the N-Judah, wouldn't return to service until early next year, which is still the case for the M and L lines.
The city's historic F-Market streetcar line also returned to limited service on May 15, running from Fisherman's Wharf to the Castro between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Cable car rides are typically $6 each, with 1-day Visitor Passports going for $13 on MuniMobile, or $24 for a paper ticket or Clipper fare.
Photo: Daniel Abadia