munitoken.jpgWeekly-perusing Appeal reader Chad emailed us after reading this SF Weekly article that suggests that Mayoral hopeful Bevan Dufty’s recent criticisms of Muni safety issues might not be borne out by the facts, citing Muni’s overall decline in accidents and favorbaly comparing Muni’s record to those in other cities.

Our reader notes that in this September 22nd story, reporter Erin Sherbert says “last week, a man was killed by a light-rail vehicle at Church and 22nd Street.” Chad then asks the Appeal “Did you guys miss this? They decided that a train hit that guy. Where’s your followup?”

ZING! OK, true, we weren’t emailing MTA spokesperson Judson True every day for updates on the September 10 incident in which a man was found dead near the J tracks at Church and 22nd.

The last we had heard, the Examiner had corrected a story which had originally said the man was struck by Muni. The MTA had said that video of the incident shows the man, identified as William Nelson, got off the S-Castro “through the rear doors at a designated stop along the Muni right-of-way just before the intersection of Church and 22nd streets. The man walks approximately 20-30 feet alongside the LRV in the same direction (south). The LRV begins to move and while the man is walking he appears to fall and is no longer visible in the video.”

Stung by the implication from our reader that we fell down on the job (Not that it’s untrue! We fall down all the time! (Hmm, probably bad choice of words given what we’re talking about.) But we also work hard to fix stuff, fast, so here you go), I shot an email off to MTA spokesperson Judson True. Has it been determined that a Muni vehicle was the cause behind the man’s death on Sept 10? I asked. He responded “I haven’t provided (or received) any info” on the incident. following up with another note saying “I checked and no new info yet.”

In the Weekly piece, Sherbert says that “Muni officials say the…incident is still under investigation,” which is a smart equivocation given how sort of weird and iffy the entire situation seems to be — but the fact remains that, at least as of this writing, neither the MTA nor the SFPD still have said that a Muni vehicle hit Nelson before his death.*

Of course, it’s completely possible that Sherbert knows something we don’t (an email sent via SF Weekly’s weird email form thing did not receive a response), so, dear reader, we can’t answer your question with total certainty. But given the facts I have at my disposal, Chad, nope, “they” didn’t decide a train hit “that guy” — at least, not yet.

*And, sure, that an article about how Muni’s safety record gets a bum rap might be assigning a bum rap of its own is kind of funny, but that’s not the point of this piece — we’re just here to respond to Chad (if that’s your REAL NAME just kidding thanks for reading!)

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 eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • Greg Dewar

    The Weekly’s article does the classic mistake of looking at the numbers and not the severity of accidents. Plus, you can’t really compare a small town like SF with atlanta or nyc. of course we’ll have fewer accidents because our systems are smaller.

    rather they should have looked at the cost of those accidents, and so on.

  • Greg Dewar

    The Weekly’s article does the classic mistake of looking at the numbers and not the severity of accidents. Plus, you can’t really compare a small town like SF with atlanta or nyc. of course we’ll have fewer accidents because our systems are smaller.

    rather they should have looked at the cost of those accidents, and so on.

  • cedichou

    I asked a question too! I was wondering why the family of the 11yo boy who got stabbed was not put on Healthy San Francisco rolls (or whatever SF’s universal coverage is) by our concerned mayor (who set up a fund for him). Would you do a “You asked” feature for me too????

  • cedichou

    I asked a question too! I was wondering why the family of the 11yo boy who got stabbed was not put on Healthy San Francisco rolls (or whatever SF’s universal coverage is) by our concerned mayor (who set up a fund for him). Would you do a “You asked” feature for me too????

  • Eve Batey

    Oh, I’m sorry! I thought you were being snide! I totally will!

  • Eve Batey

    Oh, I’m sorry! I thought you were being snide! I totally will!

  • cedichou

    Eve, sometimes I do make some snide comments indeed, so it’s hard to tell. We need a safe word so you know I’m serious.

  • cedichou

    Eve, sometimes I do make some snide comments indeed, so it’s hard to tell. We need a safe word so you know I’m serious.

  • cedichou

    It’s not about the boy, though, which is a very sad story. It’s more about Newsom going around and campaigning on his (Ammiano’s) healthy SF achievements. So which is it, universal coverage, or not?

  • cedichou

    It’s not about the boy, though, which is a very sad story. It’s more about Newsom going around and campaigning on his (Ammiano’s) healthy SF achievements. So which is it, universal coverage, or not?

  • LibertyHiller

    Greg, I’m late to the party, but I would argue that MARTA and the NYC system don’t compare well to Muni because, as far as my knowledge goes, neither of them share any significant amount of ROW with automobiles or pedestrians. If anything, those systems should in theory be much safer than Muni because of their (mostly) separate rights-of-way. I can’t easily find a source for how our on-street mileage compares to other cities; I believe that when you stack up the safety of light rail systems, that would be an extremely (and possibly the most) significant variable.

    In this instance, it appears that the dead man got off the streetcar at 21st/Chattanooga and walked south along the ROW, which is closed to bicycles and pedestrians because there’s very little clearance between a streetcar and the retaining walls and fences. (This ban is rarely enforced, of course, although it is marked as such.) I’m sorry for the loss of this man’s family and friends, but it seems to me that he put himself in harm’s way.

  • LibertyHiller

    Greg, I’m late to the party, but I would argue that MARTA and the NYC system don’t compare well to Muni because, as far as my knowledge goes, neither of them share any significant amount of ROW with automobiles or pedestrians. If anything, those systems should in theory be much safer than Muni because of their (mostly) separate rights-of-way. I can’t easily find a source for how our on-street mileage compares to other cities; I believe that when you stack up the safety of light rail systems, that would be an extremely (and possibly the most) significant variable.

    In this instance, it appears that the dead man got off the streetcar at 21st/Chattanooga and walked south along the ROW, which is closed to bicycles and pedestrians because there’s very little clearance between a streetcar and the retaining walls and fences. (This ban is rarely enforced, of course, although it is marked as such.) I’m sorry for the loss of this man’s family and friends, but it seems to me that he put himself in harm’s way.