Frequently Asked Questions

by Joe Thompson

Here are some questions that come up now and then.


Is a cable car the same thing as a trolley?

A cable car is pulled by a cable under the street while a trolley is a specific type of electric-powered street railway car.

The name trolley comes from the pole that a trolley uses to collect power from the overhead wire. Early observers thought it was like the net that a fishing boat used to troll for fish.

An electric streetcar that does not collect current through a pole, like a conduit-powered line, should not be called a trolley. >5. I know you have a major interest in including cable cars systems >other >than SF on your site. If cable cars were to return to some of the >other >cities where they once were, do you have a sense of what the top 3 >candidate >cities would be for this? Would the SF model be relevant or is SF a >unique >case (because of topography, etc.)? > That is a good question. If you don't mind, I'll include it in my faq, if I ever get around to rolling it out. I can think of: 1. Dunedin, NZ. If they had held on a few more years, jets would have started bringing tourists to New Zealand, and the Maryhill line might have been retained. I have seen the occasional comment, none real serious, suggesting that they might rebuild all or part of a cable tram line. They have the geography for it. The Wellington Cable Car, which is a funicular, does good business and has opened a museum in the winding house. 2. Seattle. I have seen many comments that said that if the cable cars had survived WWII, the city might have at least kept Yesler Way as a tourist attraction. I don't think they will try to rebuild it, in part because of the ada. Also, I don't think they could get insurance. San Francisco gets away with keeping the cars because we never got rid of them. Ada rules don't apply. 3. Some little town that was anxious to attract tourists. I occasionally muse that if I won the lottery.... I don't think the SF model applies anywhere, since people seem to be generally unaware that other cities had cable cars. It would be tough to educate them. That's one reason I created my site. 3. Some little town that was anxious to attract tourists. I occasionally muse that if I won the lottery....

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Last updated 01-Mar-2000