San Francisco's World Famous Cable Cars

No. 18

Market Street Railway Company, 1921-1926

Built 1962 by Muni, Rebuilt 2023 by Muni

This cable car is currently being reconstructed at Muni’s Cable Car Carpentry Shop. When it re-enters service it is slated to be painted in the green and red livery with gray roof used by Market Street Railway Company from 1921 to 1926.

No. 18 - Market Street Railway Company, 1921-1926
The original Car 518 at Washington and Fillmore Streets, terminal of the Washington-Jackson line, in 1946. This car was taken out of service in 1962 and replaced by a Muni-built second Car 518, which itself is now being replaced. Much of this original Car 518 was reincarnated by Muni as Car 506 (now Car 6) in 1966. Al Schwoerer collection

Only a small amount of the frame remains from its predecessor cable car that was built at Muni’s old Elkton Shops in 1962 to replace an earlier car. Then numbered 518, that 1962 car was the first cable car that Muni built essentially new since it took over the Powell cable car operation from predecessor owner Market Street Railway Company in 1944. Muni simplified the construction, using plywood for the roof instead of the traditional tongue-and-groove wood strips. After 60 years, the badly-deteriorated car was taken in for a complete rebuilding, with the traditional methods and high quality Muni has displayed since the 1980s.

No. 18 - Market Street Railway Company, 1921-1926
One of Muni’s master carpenters displays the rebuilt frame of Car 18, July 2022. Rick Laubscher photo

Powell Street Cable Car Specifications

Number of Cars
28 on roster (Maximum of 19 in service at one time)

60 (29 seated + 31 standing)

15,500 lb (7,030 kg)

27′ 6″ (8.4 m)

10′ 5″ (3.2 m)

8′ 0″ (2.4 m)

Track Gauge
3′ 6″ (1.07 m)

Round Trip Route Length
Powell-Mason line: 3.2 mi (5.15 km)
Powell-Hyde line: 4.3 mi (6.92 km)

Cable Speed
9.5 mph (15.3 km/h)

Cable Lengths
Powell: 9,300 ft (2,835 m)
Mason: 10,300 ft (3,140 m)
Hyde: 16,000 ft (4875 m)

Cable Motive Power
510-horsepower electric motor driving four cable winders at powerhouse

Powerhouse and Carbarn
Washington and Mason Streets

Built 1887 by Ferries & Cliff House Railway

Rebuilt 1906 by United Railroads

Rebuilt 1982-84 by San Francisco Municipal Railway

Steepest Grades on Powell Lines
Powell: 17% between Bush & Pine
Mason: 17% between Union & Green
Hyde: 21% between Bay & Chestnut