Cable Car Questions for San Francisco

Aug 27th, 2010, 07:25 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 2
Cable Car Questions for San Francisco

I have a couple of questions regarding the cable car procedures in San Francisco.

I know it is currently $5 for a one way ride. I have also seen where you can get on the car at any stop, that you just need to wave at the driver and wait for him to stop to get on. For the life of me I can't find how you get off at one of those stops. So I have a few related questions.

1) Can I get off at any stop along the route, or do I have to go all the way to the end of the route before I can get off? If I can get off along the route, how do I notify the driver that I want to get off?

2) I know the tickets are currently $5 for a one way ticket. If I get off mid-route, can I get back on the same route going in the same direction on the same ticket, and continue to the end of the route?

3)I know there are one day passports for $11 which I am considering getting, I just wanted to understand how the system works.

4) Is there a website somewhere that show the stops/pickups for the cable cars? I am trying to park our car somewhere in a garage (probably Union Square) and then take the cable car to Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf and maybe get off at Lombard Street. I need to figure out where the closets stops are to get off. If there is a map, can someone give me a link?

Thank you for all your help. Please excuse the newbie questions, but I really value all the great advice you guys provide.
Rocksgal is offline  
Aug 27th, 2010, 07:32 PM
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 25,503
This shows the routes really well:

A little more information:
sf7307 is online now  
Aug 27th, 2010, 07:38 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 10,264
Yes, you can get off where you wish. Not sure if there is a call bell (string) like there are on city buses. There are stops basically every block on all the routes.

Whether you can get back on depends on how crowded it is. If the car is full, the conductor won't let you get on. On busy days the only place you can board is by waiting in line at the turn arounds. I've see waits ranging from as short as none to 1-2 cars (cars go every 5min or so) to hour+ long waits that snake up the sidewalk behind barricades. will show parking, cable car, or whatever else in SF you wish to find. Just google "cable car in SF, CA" and you'll see dots along all the routes - these are the stops.

Or this site. for the routes & other info. I really like the SF cable car museum - it shows how the whole system works.

There is a large garage at Mission between 4th and 5th, and also Mason at O'Farrell. Both are close to the Powell st cable car, and the latter is closer to China town.
J62 is online now  
Aug 27th, 2010, 07:53 PM
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 25,503
It probably won't make much difference to you, but I'm pretty sure the cable cars stop every OTHER block rather than every block (but it's been a long time since I've been on one -- I used to commute on the cable car, but it's been years).
sf7307 is online now  
Aug 28th, 2010, 06:46 PM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 19,876
1) you can get off at any designated stop, usually every 1-2 blocks, there will be a string to pull or a button to press inside the car

2) I don't think you will get a ticket, the driver will only collect cash, but I may be wrong here. In any case, once you are off the car, you cannot get back for free

3) the one-day (or longer) pass gives you unlimited rides, but those cable cars are packed in season - this pass is also good on streetcars (line F) and all buses and underground MUNI lines J, L, etc...
Dayenu is offline  
Aug 28th, 2010, 07:19 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 296
I never did ride the cable car when I was in San Francisco
We were told you had to get tickets at a certain kiosk window (which was closed when we got there). When we asked the driver if we could buy tickets onboard he said "No"... emphatically. That we would have to wait for the kiosk to open to buy tickets (this was near the wharf). It was freezing and we were tired by then so we skipped it. You are wise to be sure and get the scoop before you go.
cheezz is offline  
Aug 29th, 2010, 01:10 AM
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 1
Hi Rocksgal!

The cable car is like a bus. Pull the cord or push a button (depending on which you can reach from where you are in the car) to indicate that you want the next stop. Generally the brakemen will call out the names of upcoming major intersections/attractions like the cable car museum and Lombard Street. If nothing else, the cars aren't that big so you can often just speak up - "Next stop please!" works.

I haven't heard of people not being able to buy tickets onboard. If you are going to be in SF for a couple of days, I recommend the multi-day Muni pass (I think there are 3 day and 5 day passes) which are (last time I used one) good on the whole Muni system (cable cars, buses, streetcars). I think the one day pass is the same but you'd have to confirm that. If you pay for a single trip on the cable car, they won't let you get back on to continue your trip (and you might not be able to get back on, anyway, if the cars are too crowded), although you might be able to get a transfer when you pay, good for a bus ride in another direction for the next hour or so). The nice thing about the passes is being able to use them for the other Muni options. For example, if you decide you don't want to wait in the cable car line coming back from Fisherman's Wharf, there is a streetcar that runs on the Embarcadero (along the waterfront) and then back up Market Street to Union Square.

Getting on in Union Square is good although parking is tough everywhere in The City. I would suggest riding the cable car at least as far as Lombard Street if it is a weekend. Enough people get off there that you might be able to get back on the next car. Chinatown is close, you can walk there or take a bus (or get off the cable car on the way back because then it will be more downhill) and the cable car can be a long wait to go that short of a distance.

I love the cable car (I lived in SF for years and would take it just for fun). I suggest hanging on to side (or at least sitting in the open section) to get the full experience. Just be sure to lean in when they warn you and hang on!

Have a great time!
KEubanks is offline  
Aug 29th, 2010, 11:43 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,303
These URLs may prove useful:

Note that "Muni Passports are good for unlimited rides on Muni, including cable cars"
"All-day passport: These are sold only on cable cars. They are equivalent to a 1-Day Passport on the day sold."
"CityPass is good on Muni only, not BART"
PaulRabe is offline  
Aug 29th, 2010, 05:12 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 955
I just visited SF a short time ago and filed a trip report. Was with my 9 yr old granddaughter, who loved the cable cars. You can buy multi day "passports" at kiosks, or the Walgreen's as we did. A 3 day passport cost $20, and as said above, is good on any SF muni line. We were on the California and/or the Powell street cable cars daily as well as the "F" Line street cars on the Embarcadero. At $5 a pop on the cable cars, and $2 a pop on the street cars, it paid off big time for us. It can also be used on the bus lines. We just waved the passport at the conductor when he came around for tickets.
It is my memory that says you can buy tix on the car, but that might have changed.
The cars stop every other block or so, and just tell the conductor where you want to go, and he'll (she'll) tell you when to get off. They are all very friendly and talkative in my experience. Or, just ask around to the passengers around you. Someone will give you some info. I always enjoy the conversations on the cars. They're almost all tourists. Just look at your neighbor and ask where they're from. Usually very friendly.
To get on the Powell line is a problem on busy days, like weekends. At the Hyde street turn-around, about 5 pm on a Sunday afternoon, we waited in line about an hour. All the people leaving Fisherman's wharf area after a day of siteseeing. All the way up to California, it did not let anyone on at the stops, cause it was full. This will also happen in the morning and early afternoon coming from the Powell/Market turn-around, as tourists head towards Fisherman's Wharf. Going up Powell toward California, several jam packed cable cars didn't even stop at the designated stops. Too full. We decided to walk up to California street.
California street line did not have that problem.
Cable cars are fun, and my preferred way of traveling when I'm in the City. Still, after 50 some years. They are a hoot and half.
BillJ is offline  
Aug 29th, 2010, 05:44 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 228
Just came back. Yes, you can buy a ticket once you are ON the cable car. $5. The guy will come around and ask for your ticket, if you didn't buy it at the stand.

It's only $5 one way. Not sure if you can hop on or off. The cable car ticket allows you 10% off at Ghiradelli. It was on back of the ticket. But I forgot to use it when I bought my chcolates. Dark chocolate with raspberry is the best! Next the mint!

If you plan on going many places you might as well buy the day pass or 3 day pass if you are there long enough.
chocaholic is offline  
Aug 29th, 2010, 05:47 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 228
Oh, just read Cheez's post.

Yes, when I bought my ticket the lady at the stand/kiosk on Market st (?) not sure if that was it but it was where the Gap was. she said it was for a round trip. But then when I got off the cable car I noticed it said 1 way. I'm not sure why all the consistent information.

But you can definitely get on and buy a ticket afterwards.

You are best to get on not at the ends. It's crowded. Just get on inbetween. It seems less crowded after the morning crowd. Guess that is when everyone does that first thing in the morning.
chocaholic is offline  
Aug 29th, 2010, 06:27 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27,866
The cords are not in use, they have a sign that says SO NOT PULL - .

You CANNOT get off the cable car and then get back on again [in either direction] using the same ticket. Every time you get on, it is another $5, so that is why a one day pass is best for a day, otherwise, buy a multiday pass, the 7 day is the best buy, even if you are there for less than 7 days [but more than 3 days]. It will pay for itself in about 2 or 3 days. It also enables you to just hop on a bus or F Market car when you have had too much walking, even if it is only for the few last blocks.

You cannot buy Passports on any vehicle [cable car, bus, F Market, Muni train]
DebitNM is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
United States
Apr 8th, 2017 10:22 AM
United States
Aug 7th, 2009 07:54 AM
United States
Mar 2nd, 2009 05:27 PM
Sep 1st, 2004 06:29 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:09 PM.