Some of San Francisco’s iconic cable cars will get an upgrade, starting Friday.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority said cable cars that run up and down California Street will be taken out of service for a week for maintenance work. Instead, buses will run their routes.
The cable moves underground, but a gear box powers the motor that not only keeps the vehicle’s wheels turning but also the cables moving. It's essential to the operation, officials say.
The gear boxes currently in use, however, are more than 30 years old so the SFMTA had new gear boxes custom-built for nearly $3 million.
Part of what they are trying to do is take advantage of modern technology to improve the system, without losing the cable cars’ historic charm.
The new gear boxes have special sensors that monitor vibration and noise, which will help engineers detect minor issues before they become major problems.
"We are trying to be predictive in out maintenance and replacing it before the entire thing fails,” said If it fails, the cable stops. You have service interruption (or) possibly an incident where someone can get hurt.”
People visiting San Francisco needn’t fret, though. The other cable car lines will still be up and running so they will be able to get their Instagram and Snapchat worthy footage.