San Francisco's iconic cable cars return to limited service Monday for the first time in nearly 17 months, after a few weeks in which they were in testing and retraining mode.
You may have seen a cable car or two rolling along California or Hyde streets in recent weeks, and you may have even snagged a free ride on one if the conductor was feeling generous. But as of Monday, August 2, the cable car system is officially back in business, though the schedules won't be totally back to what they were for a bit.
"I am so excited to announce that cable car service is starting back up today,” said Mayor London Breed said in a release. "Our cable cars are part of what makes San Francisco a world-class destination, and their return is just the latest sign that our city is bouncing back."
The cable cars haven't been offline this long since the entire antique system was rebuilt in the 1980s. And the month of August is still just a "mock service" period, a time of continued retraining for operators, and making sure the underground cable system is back in order.
"Our cable cars are a symbol of San Francisco and central to the city’s economic recovery,” says SFMTA Director Jeffrey Tumlin in a statement. "It’s a treat to work with the public during our mock service as we gear up to officially welcome back cable cars this fall."
Full revenue service returns in September on all three cable car lines, and that will run from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Between now and then, it's not clear what the schedule will be, but we're told it will be limited and irregular.
Breed and Tumlin reportedly negotiated this August restart for the cable cars with free rides for a month back in June, after the SFMTA initially announced that the cable cars wouldn't be back in service until September — and Breed didn't like the sound of that as the city struggles to bring back tourism this summer.
The Delta variant isn't playing nice, however, and with a new mask mandate looming, there could be further impacts on tourism before we trying getting back to "normal" a second time.
In the meantime, locals who haven't spent much time on the cable cars because they're usually too packed with fanny-packed tourists: now is your time. Starting in September, each ride will cost $8 again.
Photo courtesy of the SFMTA