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February 12, 2020
This is not a trolley. It's called a cable car.

San Francisco Frequently Asked Questions: What's the Difference Between a Cable Car and a Trolley?

Welcome to our newest series, SF FAQs. Each week, someone from our Visitor Information Center will answer a commonly asked question about San Francisco, dispelling myths and providing helpful tips about the city where you left your heart.

This week, Nicole and Zherr-Anne tackle a popular question: What's the difference between a cable car and a trolley?

San Francisco does, in fact, have both. Trolleys (also known as streetcars) run on Market Street and along the Embarcadero from Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 all the way to Oracle Park. The trolley's are a part of the SF Muni's historic F-Line. Cable cars are the most famous of the two with many appearances in Hollywood movies.

What are the similarities?
Both are modes of transportation in San Francisco that run on a regular daily schedule and both date back to the 19th century.

What are the differences?
The main difference is how they derive their power. Cable cars are pulled up the hill by a cable wire underneath them in the track. Trolleys are on an electric motor attached to an overhead wire. Cable cars run along Powell, Hyde and California Streets, while trolleys run along Market Street and the Embarcadero

How can I ride both the cable cars and the trolleys?
You can buy 1, 3 or 7-day Muni Passport at the Visitor Information Center.

Now you know the difference. Stay tuned for next week's SF FAQ.


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