Powell Cable Car 28 was built entirely new by Muni’s Cable Car Carpentry Shop while its predecessor was still in service, the only time this has happened. The new Car 28 entered service on January 2, 2004, and the old 28 was retired the same day and put into storage.
The first Car 28 had an interesting history, beginning life as open-sided Cable Car 544 in 1887, part of the original Ferries & Cliff House Railway Company fleet. These open-sided cars saw little use, given San Francisco’s unpredictable and generally cool weather, and in 1912 the car was rebuilt into a standard combination open-and-closed Powell car, and renumbered 501. This original car was rebuilt by Muni in 1951, the first cable car to receive this level of attention since Muni took over the Powell cars in 1944.
When the 1973 centennial of the cable car’s invention approached, Muni cable car maintenance foreman asked to create a special car in the original 1888 Powell Street livery for the occasion. He had a new car build, using the seats and roof from another car. When Car 1 debuted for the centennial, the old 501 was renumbered to 28.
In 2017, the decommissioned first Car 28 was traded to the Shore Line Trolley Museum for two double-end “Red Arrow” Philadelphia streetcars, which can potentially be remanufactured for service in San Francisco.
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)
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)
9.5 mph (15.3 km/h)
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