The SF MTA has released a statement regarding Thursday morning’s accident in which a J Church rear ended an F Market historic streetcar, in which “human error” is described as the probable cause of the accident.

The statement notes that not only was the J Church operating at an excessive speed, but that the video surveillance equipment on the J was not in operation. The statement does not address the issue raised by commenter Alex, who noted that the J operator, who was not named in the statement, seemed to fail to follow Muni’s rules regarding the reportedly required one-block following distance between trains.

From the statement:

This morning at approximately 6:24 a.m., a J Church Muni Metro light rail vehicle (LRV) traveling toward downtown on the dedicated Muni right-of-way on San Jose Avenue (near the Highland Avenue overpass) struck a stationary F Market historic streetcar that was puling out from its storage yard to enter regular service. The F Market was stopped at the proper distance behind another Muni vehicle at the San Jose/Randall traffic signal.

Information from the initial investigation indicates that human error is the most likely cause of the accident. No problems have been found with the vehicle or the tracks so far, though the investigation is ongoing. The Operator of the J Church, who has been with Muni since 1980, is on non-driving status and has been tested for drugs and alcohol per normal procedure.

According to readings from on-board equipment, the LRV was traveling at 39 miles per hour (mph) at the time of impact; the Muni speed limit on the right-of-way is 35 mph under ideal conditions, but Muni Operators should always travel at a speed that is safe for conditions.

“This accident is completely unacceptable,” said Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., SFMTA Executive Director/CEO. “We must and we will continue our efforts to ensure the safety of our customers.”

Video surveillance equipment on the J Church LRV was not functioning; the SFMTA is working to determine the problem with the equipment. F Market streetcars do not have video surveillance equipment.

According to the San Francisco Fire Department, three people (F Market Muni Operator, two J customers) were transported to the hospital and two additional J customers were treated at the scene for a total of five injuries.

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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