muni_old.jpgAccording to a press release sent by the SF MTA last night, today at 1:30 at the N Judah turnaround at Judah and La Playa, Supervisor Carmen Chu, SFMTA and SFPD to Announce Effort to Improve Pedestrian Safety near Muni Light Rail Vehicles.

Well, this certainly sounds exciting! I know that last night when I was getting off the N Judah and IT STARTED FUCKING MOVING I certainly did not feel safe — but perhaps I did not count as a pedestrian since I WAS STILL HALF IN THE TRAIN. (And, yes, I called 311 and filed a report. I eagerly anticipate great satisfaction from the resolution of my complaint.)

Sadly, the Appeal won’t be attending the presser so we won’t be able to immediately update you with what attendees Supervisor Carmen Chu, Samuel W. Lau (Deputy Chief Operating Officer for the MTA), and SFPD Captain Paul Chignell of the Taraval Police Station have to say at this “joint press conference to announce a new effort to improve pedestrian safety near Muni light rail vehicles.”

But, hey, if you go, tell us what went down. Just be careful, between the car drivers and turning Ns in the area, pedestrian safety is going to be put to the test at this little shindig. Or maybe they’ll close the area to traffic. That would certainly be one way to improve pedestrian safety. Maybe that’s the “new plan”?

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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  • LibertyHiller

    I’m sincerely glad to hear that you weren’t hurt, Eve. I’ve had this happen to me at least once over the years; it wouldn’t surprise anyone who rides Muni often to learn that whatever interlocks exist to keep the train from moving unless all doors are closed are disabled by operators as an “unofficial policy.” Muni’s streetcars are designed with plug-type doors, which seem to develop issues when they’re regularly forced open by riders.

    It doesn’t help that at some stops (20th/Church outbound comes to mind, for those of you who ride the J), the train is poised at an angle that causes the rearmost plug door to slam into its frame, and at that point what I presume is a “safety” mechanism takes over, and opens the door. The ear-splitting screech ought to alert the operator to the problem, but it merely works on the passengers’ last nerves. This problem goes back to the days of the Boeings; it didn’t take long for the Bredas to develop similar faults.

    The field solution that I’ve seen most is for the operator to close the door while the train begins moving. On rare occasions, the operator will leave the cab and disable the door altogether, but I suspect that once they get back to the yard at Green Division and the problem is reported, the mechanics can’t replicate the problem and the streetcar is placed back into service.

    Since Muni won’t be replacing the Bredas anytime in the next 10-20 years, the design fault can’t be addressed in any meaningful way. The only option would seem to be a comprehensive maintenance plan, and if anyone thinks that Muni can manage that, they have more faith than I.

  • Eve Batey

    LibertyHiller, thank you! I must confess, part of me thought, as it happend, oh man if I get really hurt I will either have a great story or be mocked forever or possibly both. And then afterwards I thought oh shit that could have been really bad!

    You raise an interesting point on door disabling and where it fits into policy. I’m definitely going to look at this a little more. Thanks for bringing it up!