SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – thing! Thing! The iconic San Francisco cable cars rang their bells on Monday and rolled back up the city’s hills after being incapacitated by the pandemic for 16 months.
At Powell and Market, one of the cable car stops, a line of people wound around a cable car turntable, waiting to drive to Ghirardelli Square or Fisherman’s Wharf.
“Our cable cars are part of what makes San Francisco a world-class travel destination, and their return is just the latest sign that our city is recovering,” said the Mayor of San Francisco London Breed.
Breed said it will be free to ride the cable cars in August and asked people to be patient as the service won’t follow a regular schedule until September, when the historic trams go into full operation on all three lines and one Collect the fare.
Frank Miller of San Antonio said he and six members of his family arrived in San Francisco last week and had already visited some of the city’s top attractions. They took the 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 on ‘full house’ so everyone knows the cable cars. We definitely want to take the trams around town,” said Miller, 40, who was waiting with his family from Powell Street and the Market drive to the fisherman’s wharf.
Before the pandemic, 25 million tourists visited San Francisco annually, many of whom rode the cable cars as synonymous with the city as Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Roughly 17,000 riders packed the cable cars daily before they were parked in March 2020 when the city was cordoned off and protected. According to the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency, it was the longest shutdown since the 1980s when the system was fully reconstructed.