The historic trolleys returned on Monday for the first time since March 2020.

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A piece of San Francisco's heart is beating again.

After a 16-month pause in service during the pandemic, the city's historic cable cars started operating again on Monday — and rides are free through the month of August while they rev back up on a limited schedule, according to the SFMTA, which runs the trolleys.

"Our cable cars are part of what makes San Francisco a world-class destination," the city's mayor, London Breed, said, according to the Associated Press. "Their return is just the latest sign that our city is bouncing back."

The SFMTA is taking a cautious approach, with irregular service from 7:30 a.m. to about 10:30 p.m. seven days a week, as the system starts back up. It hopes to be back to full service in September, when fees will be reinstated.

"These operators that are with me today would normally be testing the equipment, making sure things are running smoothly, making sure that they are safe and making sure that the public is safe," Breed said, according to local ABC7 station KGO, which joined her at one of the trolley stops on Monday for the announcement. "So please, listen to your operators, be patient, be understanding."

Transamerica Pyramid and Cable Car on Powell and California Street San Francisco California USA
Credit: Matt Mawson/Getty Images

Riders lined up on Monday to board from one of the most iconic locations, the trolley turnaround at Powell and Market Streets on the route that heads toward Fisherman's Wharf. Prior to the March 2020 pause in service, about 17,000 people rode the cable cars every day.

This had been the longest pause in the trolley running through the 49-square-mile city since the 1980s, when the system was reconstructed, the SFMTA said, according to the AP.

As part of a public transportation system, face coverings are required for cable car riders, including the time they're waiting at the stops. Additionally, San Francisco County joined other Bay Area municipalities yesterday in bringing back mask mandates — which went into effect overnight — in indoor public settings, regardless of vaccination status.