Cable Cars: San Francisco's Picturesque Lawsuit Machines

Cable cars! Many of us only ride them when we have out-of-town guests, but most of us agree that they’re full of character, right? But according to the Associated Press, that character comes at a price of rider injuries that have cost us $8 million in the last three years.

The AP reports that the last 10 years have seen 126 cable car accidents that injured 151 people. Citing federal transportation figures, they report that there were 19 injuries and 16 accidents on cable cars in the past year.

Just a few of these injuries resulted in “about four dozen legal claims” that cost the SFMTA $8 million to settle, the AP reports.

“While one accident is too many and we’re always working to improve safety, these incidents are rare,” SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose told the AP.

However rare they re, they’re certainly costly: As we reported back in 2010, that year cable cars were expected to generate $5.5 million in revenue even as the agency paid out at least an estimated $4.85 million in accident settlements.

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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