Contest: San Francisco With a $5 Cable Car Fare

by Walter Rice

Powell and California
Even the "pole hangers" pay $5 for the privilege to grab onto a pole! Powell cable No. 9 is crossing the California Street cable line; if one of our pole hangers had transferred from a California Street cable car the total cost of the journey would be $10! A return cable car trip would be another $10; not too good for a family of four.

No. 9, which entered service new in 2000, is in a green and white paint scheme similar to the colors of one of the former Powell Street cable car operators -- the Market Street Railway. When the City purchased the Market Street Railway in 1944 the fare, which included a free city-wide transfer, was 7-cents. Since 1944 cable car fares have increased over 71-times, whereas the regular streetcar and bus fares only 21-times. Walter Rice Collection

On September 1, 2005 because of San Francisco's deficit problems most Muni fares were raised. The basic cash fare (with a free transfer) was increased from $1.25 to $1.50, a 20% rise; whereas the basic cable car fare (no transfer privileges) went to $5 from $3, a two-thirds rise. Differential higher cable car fares did not exist until April 1982, when they were implemented as a result of a vote by the electorate. Voters were told the extra revenues were needed to pay for the system-wide cable car rebuilding that did occur between September 1982 and June 1984.

This fare policy has been controversial, most notably since the implementation of the current $5 fare. Therefore, it was decided to obtain views on this important issue and to use as a vehicle a method designed by Friedel Klussmann the "Cable Car Lady". When the city-owned Powell Street cable cars were threatened in 1947, Friedel Klussmann evolved a contest centering on the unfinished question: "San Francisco without cable cars would be like ...?"

Here is our new contest:

San Francisco with a $5 cable car fare is a city...

The contest is simple. Complete the sentence. For example:

  • San Francisco with a $5 cable car fare is a city that does NOT know how
  • San Francisco with a $5 cable car fare is a city that knows how to maximize revenues

E-mail your entries (as many times as you want) to: Please make your subject "Contest: San Francisco With a $5 Fare."


Cal Cable cover When Steam cover

Grand Prize: A copy each of San Francisco's California Street Cable Car; Celebrating a Century and a Quarter of Service, by Walter Rice and Emiliano Echeverria, Harold E. Cox Publisher and a copy of When Steam Ran on the Streets of San Francisco, by the same authors, Harold E. Cox Publisher.

First Place: San Francisco's California Street Cable Car; Celebrating a Century and a Quarter of Service.

Second Place: When Steam Ran on the Streets of San Francisco

Rules: All entries must be received by midnight on Friday, December 15. The decision of the judges is final. No griping about the results allowed. No entries are permitted from the webmaster, the webmaster's family, the judges, or the judges' families. Enter often. Please keep your answers brief. The webmaster reserves the right to reproduce all entries on this website and to convey to the appropriate persons and agencies of the city of San Francisco. Muni has indicated they are currently studying the $5-fare issue. The webmaster will not reproduce your email address. If you win, he will email you to request your mail address so you can receive your prize.

Contest dash sign
Val Lupiz created this dash sign to announce the contest. All rights reserved.

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Last updated 01-Dec-2006