|Subject: Re: San Francisco Cable Cars (was Alcatraz Tours)|
I'll try to help out with the cable cars. There are 3 routes, one east-west and two north-south. Check about a day pass - if you will be returing on the cable car or using any other buses on that day then it is worth buying. Just hop on the car and someone will come around to collect the fare for either the one-way ticket or day pass.
The California Line goes east-west from near the ferry building up Knob Hill. This route has the fewest spectacular views.
There are two north-south routes that originate in Union Square. The Mason route is the shorter (and less fun, in my opinion) of the two. It does end closer to Pier 39, but the last part of the ride is through a flat area and the end of the line is a few blocks from the water.
I feel that the best route is the Hyde. This one has great up- and down- hills and wonderful views. It ends in near Aquatic Park, right off the water. Next to the park is the Buena Vista restaurant, birthplace of the Irish Whiskey drink. From there, its an interesting stroll through the wharf area to reach the ferry, past shops, restaurants, and a ship museum. Remember, it starts at the same point as the Mason line, so be sure of which car you are getting on.
Here's a little trick about catching the cable car at Union Square. The Powell Street turn-around is where visitors line up. It can take 30-60 minutes to get on a car from here. Instead of waiting in line, go up a block or two to the next cable car stop. Some of the cars are not filled at the turn-around so that there is room to take on more passengers (generally the locals) along the way. Stand at the cable car sign on the sidewalk and wave to the gripman, he will stop the car so you can board.
Here is a link to the routes and other information on the cable cars.
Michele Oakland, CA.