California’s Iconic Cable Street Car

California is known for a lot of kinds of stuff and places present there. It is also referred to as the Golden City. From Disneyland to Redwood Trees, Hollywood to Beaches, California has it all. But there exists one more thing which is a specialty of the Golden City, California. They are the iconic Cable Street Cars.

(image source)

The whole system of cable streetcars present in California is the world’s largest manually operated cable car system. It is considered to be iconic because it forms part of the intermodal urban transport network.


The complete system of street cable cars is operated by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. They were invented by Andrew Smith Hallidie in 1873. There were 23 lines established during the phase of 1873 to 1890. But now, only three of them remain. In later days, it was being discussed to replace them with other types of streetcars. The earthquake which took place in San Francisco in 1906 destroyed many cable cars.

(image source)

One of them runs along California Street. The other two, routes run from downtown near Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf. The iconic cable streetcars of California are one of the most significant tourist attractions. These cable cars made their way to the list of the National Register of Historic Places.

There are primarily two types of cable cars namely:

  • The Powell Street Lines: These lines use the smaller size of cable cars. They require turntables to reverse the direction of the cable car.
  • California Street Cable Car Line: This line features a total of 12 large cable cars. They can be operated from either end of the car and can travel in any direction.

Riding In The Iconic Cable Cars

If you want to travel in these iconic cable cars, you can choose the route which suits you. The three major routes which can be chosen are:

(image source)

The local inhabitants use these cable cars as their day-to-day mode of transportation. A single-ride ticket costs $7 for all the visitors regardless of any time of the day. Different cable car lines have designated stops on their route. The payment is done once the passenger is aboard. Passengers can also purchase passes for unlimited rides. This can be done with an SFMTA Visitor Passport.

Interestingly, people can enjoy different movies during traveling in these cable cars. Usually, a cable car can carry around 60 passengers comfortably. They have the capacity to travel up to 9.5 MPH. Apparently, over 9.7 million people ride cable cars every year.

If you like reading this article, make sure to read our blog on Quick Guide To Lava Beds National Park.