Powell Street cable cars have some breathing room now, with the implementation of an 18-month test to ban private automobiles from Powell between Geary and Ellis Streets. The SFMTA Board of Directors recently approved the plan, which Market Street Railway has been advocating for more than a year, and signage went up along with the signature red lanes San Francisco uses to denote “transit only.”
While compliance with the new rules seems pretty good so far, part of that may be because the intersections are filled with SFMTA Parking Control Officers (PCOs) directing drivers away from Powell. The real test will come when the PCOs are pulled off.
But it’s a good start. The Powell cable cars now have three blocks of automobile-free operation after leaving the turntable at Market Street. As the test continues, Market Street Railway will be working with Union Square groups and city agencies to try to create a beautiful permanent streetscape for Powell from Market to Union Square, one of the busiest pedestrian stretches in the city.