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How can I avoid the long lines for the cable cars in San Francisco?

There are 3 active cable car lines in San Francisco: the California Line, the Powell-Mason Line and the Powell-Hyde Line. Each line is named after the primary streets on which it runs. The Powell-Hyde Line has the best views and crosses the top of the most famous part of Lombard Street but it is also the most crowded and most difficult to board. If you must ride the Powell-Hyde Line, try to catch it a couple of stops from its beginning on either end as the cable car operators often leave some room for passengers to get on. While this method doesn't always work, it does avoid the unnecessary tedium of waiting in line for half an hour or more and allows you the option of a small walking tour between attempts. For a quicker boarding experience, try the Powell-Mason Line from the cable car turnaround on the corner of Taylor and Bay Streets. Or, if you wish to enjoy the view from atop Nob Hill, try the California Line from any point along its length from Market Street to Van Ness Avenue. However, please be aware that cable cars are not a rapid mode of transit. Indeed, they move at less than 10 miles per hour when running at full speed. So, if you wish to get somewhere faster, you may wish to use one of the many neighboring bus lines.

last updated 2008.09.04
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