1. The cable carsThere are only 3 lines but it has become an icon of San Francisco. It costs $5 one way or $13 for a day pass.
A bit of history...
The first cable car was put in service on the 1st of September 1873 by an English man named Andrew Hallidie.The line involved the use of grip cars, which carried the grip that engaged with the cable, towing trailer cars. The design was the first to use grips. The term Grip became synonymous with the operator.
On April 1892, the first electric streetcars with overhead wires began running in San Francisco.
On 1st October1964, an official ceremony at Hyde and Beach designated San Francisco's cable car system a special "moving" National Historic Landmark.
From 1982 to June 1984, the cable car system was rebuilt and historic cable cars refurbished.
How does it work?The driver of a cable car is known as the gripman. This is a highly skilled job, requiring the gripman to smoothly operate the grip lever to grip and release the cable, release the grip at certain points in order to coast the vehicle over crossing cables or places where the cable does not follow the tracks, and to anticipate well in advance possible collisions with other traffic that may not understand the limitations of a cable car. Being a gripman requires great upper body strength needed for the grip and brakes, as well as good hand-eye co-ordination and balance.
Besides the gripman, each cable car carries a conductor whose job is to collect fares, manage the boarding and exiting of passengers, and control the rear wheel brakes when descending hills. With the common practice of carrying standing passengers on the running boards of cable cars, passenger management is an important task.
The gripman and the system
2. The street cars
What is the difference with the cable car?Streetcars also run on steel rails, but with no slot between the tracks, and no underground cable. Unlike the mechanical cable cars, streetcars are propelled by on board electric motors and require a trolley pole to draw power from an overhead wire. San Francisco has the world's most diverse collection of streetcars in the States in regular transit service, and many are quite unique and different looking.
Some history...The first proposal for an historic streetcar line was adopted in 1979. The same year, the city obtained its first historic streetcar from another country (the streetcar from Hamburg, Germany).
In 1981, there was an historic streetcar service on Market Street during the summer weekend.
During 1986 and 1987, the project received support from the Market Street Railway Company, a non-profit group dedicated to the acquisition, restoration, and operation of historic transit vehicles in the city. They ensured that there would be full-time historic streetcar service in San Francisco.
September 1, 1995, was the first day of service for the F Market historic streetcar line, between Castro, Market Streets and the Transbay Terminal at 1st & Mission Streets.
The different streetcarsEach streetcar has an history. Now there are 30 different streetcars in operation, some are under repairs.
Melbourne, Australia, built in 1946This tram was donated to the City of San Francisco by the State Government of Victoria in 2009
San Francisco Municipal Railway, built in 1948
This car is painted in tribute to the ‘Magic Carpets’, as Muni’s first five modern-design streetcars were known. It's the only on still in service.
San Diego, built in 1946This streetcar is painted to honor San Diego, which operated PCC streetcars from 1937 to 1949.
For many years, streetcars in both San Francisco and San Diego served the zoo and Balboa Park. But San Diego actually promoted those destinations on all its PCC streetcars, even the ones on routes that didn't go there.
Boston elevated railway, built in 1848
Because of conditions in its vintage subway, Boston used the only single-end US PCCs to be built with doors on the left-hand side. They were augmented in the late 1950s by second-hand double-end cars purchased from Dallas. Boston's PCC ﬂeet maxed out at 344 cars of several different types.