Since 1873, many people have been fascinated with San Francisco’s unique transportation service. As a San Francisco native, I remember riding on a cable car if I was too tired to walk to the top of the Powell Street hill. And the Municipal Railway fare was the same as if I was riding on a bus, 15 cents.
Now, more than 7 million people, mostly tourists, ride our cable cars each year. Here is a virtual experience with the sights and sounds of San Francisco from the vantage point of a cable car rider:
Most folks are probably unaware that the rules for how to ride a cable car changed in the 1960s. In 1965, a 19-year-old student named Mona Hutchin decided to take on what she called, “an outmoded, asinine law.” Mona boarded a cable car and stood on the steps of the car instead of sitting on one of the seats. The gripman, the driver of the car, and the conductor, the one who takes the money, both asked Mona to step inside to comply with the Municipal Railway policy of barring the outside steps to female passengers. Mona stood her ground on the steps, with a male companion.
As the gripman and conductor tried persuasion, a woman passenger already seated said, “This isn’t funny young lady!” As cable cars started backing up at the turntable, the police were summoned. Mona would not budge. “There is no reason,” she said, “why the Muni should take more interest in my safety than his,” referring to her male friend.
After managing to pry her fingers loose, the police took Mona to the Hall of Justice. A representative of Muni called the policy an, “accident prevention measure.” Another Muni employee explained that men, “know how to fall better.” And his final insight was, “It wouldn’t due to injure a potential mother.”
After being detained briefly at the Hall of Justice, the police determined that there was no legal basis for the Muni policy. Mona was released. Later in the year, the illegal policy on how women could ride on a cable car was changed.
Today, there is the Cable Car Museum for history buffs. Here is the link:
And currently, a ride on a cable car costs $6 per person. The cable car system also has its own Web page. Click here for possibly more than you ever wanted to know about how to ride a cable car: