SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The city’s signature cable cars, shuttered by the COVID-19 pandemic, will return in August for testing and be giving free rides all month long as Muni shakes off the rust accumulated during more than a year of being shut down.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed, appearing without her mask, stood in front of a cable car at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf Tuesday, celebrating the official lifting of restrictions put into place to stem the COVID-19 pandemic.

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When the city shut down in March 2020, the cable cars were parked in their service yard as public transportation all but ceased during the months of being shelter-in-place. While Muni has been restarting services over the ensuing months, the cable cars have remained idle.

Muni officials had told Breed that they could not return the cable cars to service until the fall.

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“I didn’t want to hear it,” she said. “But he (Muni head Jeffrey Tumlin) did come up with a creative solution. Even though we were anticipating bringing back the cable cars this fall, we are going do something absolutely extraordinary.”

“What’s going to happen at the beginning of August is the cable cars will be available to all riders for the entire month of August for free of charge. So we are bringing them back a little earlier, not as early as I wished, but early enough so that you catch them at the end of the summer, right before you send your kid back to school when they open this fall, and they had better open this fall.”

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Tumlin said the cable cars will be running close to their normal schedules while the testing is underway. They will return to full-fare, normal scheduling on Sept. 1.