Cable Cars Conk Out Early. Will You Pay More?

Categories: Public Transit
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It just ain't the same on a bus
The California cable car line was scheduled to go out of service for six months come Jan. 3 -- and beat the holiday rush by conking out on Christmas Day. Happy holidays, indeed.

It turns out that the eponymous cable was severed -- which is every bit as bad as it sounds. Muni spokesman Paul Rose said that fixing the line in time for its closure next week would have required three or four days of backbreaking toil and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Here's where you get to make a joke about how even Muni couldn't make a decision that financially nonsensical.

In lieu of the romantic old cable cars, Muni is rolling out buses for the California line. But there is one very small upside:

Just as is the case when a cable car goes down unexpectedly and is replaced by a bus, riders will now only have to pay $2 per trip instead of the cable cars' exorbitant $5 one-way fare.

This prompts several questions. Will Gavin Newsom morph into his alter ego, Gavin Newsom P.I., and attempt to spot malevolent drivers pocketing cash -- as he claims he did on the cable cars? Or is the bus not sexy enough for our erstwhile mayor?

Also, will Muni make or lose money due to the cable cars being out of commission? The cable cars cost mega-bucks to ride (and maintain) -- but will lower fees inspire more customers? Or will no one want to ride on a bus? Muni has not worked out those equations.

Rose claims the majority of the California line's riders are actually commuters -- so they're the big losers for the next six months.

"People say [the cable cars] felt like a vacation on the way to work."

Sigh. Vacation's over.

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