San Francisco's World Famous Cable Cars San Francisco Market Street Railway Museum

San Francisco Municipal Railway (1984-current)

Built 1893 by Carter Brothers

This page covers the current standard paint scheme for Powell Street cable cars. Car 2 is the lowest number in this group; the same livery appears on Powell cars 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, and 28.

After Muni took over the Powell cable car lines in 1944, the green and white paint scheme on those cars was gradually changed to green and cream; all 28 cars were painted identically, except for minor lettering differences. While the cable car tracks, carbarn and powerhouse were being completely rebuilt between 1982-84, Muni repaired and repainted all the cable cars, and decided to replace the green and cream Muni livery adopted in the 1940s (already gone from buses) with a simpler version of the original 1888 Powell Street Railway Company maroon and blue livery, a more detailed and authentic version of which had been applied to Powell cable car No. 1 for the 1973 centennial of the first cable car line.

Subsequently, with the encouragement of our nonprofit, Market Street Railway, more Powell cable cars were repainted in authentic paint schemes that Powell cars wore during different period in the lines’ long history.

(The details at the bottom of this page pertain to cable car No. 2. Specific histories of each cable car can be found on the cable car roster page.)

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