Cars

Upgrade to shut down California Street cable cars in SF for a week

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The cable cars on California Street in San Francisco will be dormant for the next week as the line gets an upgrade to its gearboxes.

The maintenance work on the route started Friday and will run through Sept. 29. In the meantime, the route will be serviced by Muni buses.

During the substitution, riders will be charged the usual Muni bus fare of $2.75, which is a lot cheaper than the $7 fare for the cable cars but lacks the click-clack noises and ringing bells of their iconic counterparts.

The renovation is part of a $6 million project to modernize the entire cable car system’s gearboxes, which pull the cables and allow the cars to move. The current gearboxes have been in service since 1984.

The California Street Line is the first to temporarily shut down as part of the two-year project. The next scheduled renovations are in spring of 2018 for the Powell Street Line and fall of 2018 for the Mason Street Line. Some time in 2019, all lines will shut down to update the central Hyde Street Line gearbox.

Paul Rose, a spokesman for the SFMTA, said the new gearboxes are expected to last 30 to 40 years before they’ll have to be replaced again. Rose said that the renovations are spaced out because each new part has to be custom manufactured for the respective line.

“This is the type of work we have to do to keep 150-year-old technology running,” Rose said. “The cable cars are the only system like it in the United States, and this is work we need to do to make sure it stays safe.”

Annie Ma is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: ama@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @anniema15

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