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Preserving SF’s Cable Cars: Cal. Line to See First Bus Substitution Starting Sept. 22

Friday, September 15, 2017

California Cable Car on California Street.
The California Cable Car Line will see the first of four eight-day cable car service shutdowns for maintenance.

For eight days starting on Friday, Sept. 22, the California Cable Car Line will be served by buses during crucial maintenance work to preserve the cable car system.

The California Line is the first cable car line segment that will need to be shut down while we rehabilitate the five cable gearboxes in the Cable Car Barn and Powerhouse. These gearboxes have been in service since 1984, and they each need a thorough overhaul to keep San Francisco’s world-famous cable cars running safely and reliably.

Here’s the approximate schedule for bus substitutions on all cable car line segments:

  • Sept. 22 - 29: California Line
  • Spring 2018: Powell Line (Powell Street portion of the Mason and Hyde lines)
  • Fall 2018: Mason Line (Mason Street, Columbus Avenue and Taylor Street)
  • Spring or Fall 2019: All cable car lines (required to rehab the central Hyde Line gearbox)

A view of the cable car gearboxes next to motor wheels and cables in the Cable Car Barn and Powerhouse.
The cable car gearboxes (white, at bottom) in the Cable Car Barn and Powerhouse.

It takes about eight days to rehab each of the gearboxes in the Cable Car Barn at 1201 Mason Street, which control the movement of different cable segments in the system. For five months after each gearbox is rehabbed, our crews monitor them while they’re in service and make any mechanical adjustments needed.

During cable car line closures, bus shuttles serve regular cable car stops at the curb where the posted sign is located (rather than the middle of intersections, as cable cars do). Regular Muni fare rates apply (rather than cable car fare rates).

A map of substitute bus service on the California Cable Car Line .The last inbound and outbound stops on the eastern end of the line are at California and Davis streets.
A map of substitute bus service on the California Cable Car Line.

The California Line will be substituted with buses from Friday, Sept. 22 through Friday, Sept. 29. For the other cable car bus substitutions, we’ll update riders with more detailed timelines as they become clear.

We appreciate your patience as we work to preserve cable car system – San Francisco’s mobile National Historic Landmark.