Clang! Clang! San Francisco’s cable cars are running again

People line up to board a cable car in San Francisco
People line up to board a cable car at the Powell Street turnaround plaza in San Francisco on Monday.
(Associated Press )

Ding! Ding! San Francisco’s iconic cable cars were chiming their bells and rolling again on the city’s hills Monday after being sidelined for 16 months by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Powell and Market, one of the stops, a line of people snaked around a cable car turntable waiting to ride a car to Ghirardelli Square or Fisherman’s Wharf.

“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,” Mayor London Breed said.

Breed said it will be free to ride the cable cars in August and asked people to be patient because the service won’t follow a regular schedule until September, when the historic trolleys will resume full service in all three lines and start charging a riding fee.


Frank Miller of San Antonio said he and six members of his family arrived in San Francisco last week and have already visited some of the city’s top landmarks. They rode a ferry to Angel Island and visited Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, but Miller said riding the cable cars was a highlight for him.

“I grew up watching ‘Full House,’ so everybody knows the cable cars. We definitely want to ride the trolley cars through the city,” said Miller, 40, who was waiting with his family to ride from Powell Street and Market Street to Fisherman’s Wharf.

Before the pandemic, 25 million tourists visited San Francisco annually, with many of them riding the cable cars that are as synonymous with the city as Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge.

About 17,000 riders packed onto the cable cars daily before they were parked in March 2020 as the city locked down and sheltered in place. It was the longest shutdown since the 1980s, when the system was fully reconstructed, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.