muni_generic.jpgYesterday, Muni Diaries published a reader account of an incident on a Muni light rail vehicle during the morning rush at Church Station.

“(T)his chick got her arm stuck in the door. Like in the sliding track…her left arm and elbow. I watched her scream with hysteria. Originally, she’d been very busy trying to cram on to the very full train, and getting angry….Somehow, they got her arm out. She had a pretty big bruise on the bone of her elbow…She was distraught (and I would be too).”

Is this a thing? Can this happen? We’ve all been on trains with doors that won’t close because someone’s bag/coat/vestigial tail are in the way, so what went wrong here? Should one be more careful before trying to cram oneself onto (given Muni’s most recent round of service cuts) trains that seem to be more crowded than ever before?

We emailed the SFMTA’s media relations folks nearly 8 hours ago seeking answers to these questions, and have not heard word one back. No phone call, no email, no nothing, so if you want to know how a fate like this befell this unnamed woman, I guess you’re on your own.

Or maybe not! You readers are a smart bunch, what do you think, how could this happen. What could go wrong with an LRV’s doors to cause this?

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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  • Fred

    From the description, her arm was not caught between the soft sensor pads that are meant to open the door, although there was an incident at Powell station a couple years ago where that sensor failed and a man was dragged along the platform until someone pulled the emergency release. In yesterday’s incident, it sounds to me as if her arm was caught at the outer edge of the door or in the track at the top, where the sign says to “keep fingers away”. Hopefully a witness will come forward and leave a comment clarifying the situation.

  • Fred

    From the description, her arm was not caught between the soft sensor pads that are meant to open the door, although there was an incident at Powell station a couple years ago where that sensor failed and a man was dragged along the platform until someone pulled the emergency release. In yesterday’s incident, it sounds to me as if her arm was caught at the outer edge of the door or in the track at the top, where the sign says to “keep fingers away”. Hopefully a witness will come forward and leave a comment clarifying the situation.

  • areallyniceguy

    I did get my wrist stuck in the door of a train. Because of the squishy rubber pads, I didn’t get hurt. A quick-thinking person next to the door hit the bar right away, so my hand was only caught inside the train for a second or two. The people on the train who saw my hand were more freaked out than I was. Come to think of it, it was kind of funny.

  • areallyniceguy

    I did get my wrist stuck in the door of a train. Because of the squishy rubber pads, I didn’t get hurt. A quick-thinking person next to the door hit the bar right away, so my hand was only caught inside the train for a second or two. The people on the train who saw my hand were more freaked out than I was. Come to think of it, it was kind of funny.

  • Alex Zepeda

    Yes it can happen. Let’s say the sensor is miscalibrated, bam the doors close and nothing notices that something is in the way. Let’s say something’s broken, same thing. Ever tried to use the emergency exit lever, but the doors wouldn’t budge? Yup. Doors get stuck. Mainly because stupid people like that woman do stupid things like try to force themselves on the train.

    In regards to the incident Fred’s describing, there are door interlocks that (sorta) prevent the train from moving if the doors are open. Unfortunately because maintenance was so poor, and riders so abusive, drivers often disabled the interlocks. Now there are tamper evident seals on the override switches, but, yeah more ways to hurt yourself with the doors.

    Sure, there are plenty of asshole drivers out there who are too lazy to check their mirrors… or otherwise get off on trying to trap people in the doors… but don’t contribute to the problem by trying to force your way into the train.

  • Alex Zepeda

    Yes it can happen. Let’s say the sensor is miscalibrated, bam the doors close and nothing notices that something is in the way. Let’s say something’s broken, same thing. Ever tried to use the emergency exit lever, but the doors wouldn’t budge? Yup. Doors get stuck. Mainly because stupid people like that woman do stupid things like try to force themselves on the train.

    In regards to the incident Fred’s describing, there are door interlocks that (sorta) prevent the train from moving if the doors are open. Unfortunately because maintenance was so poor, and riders so abusive, drivers often disabled the interlocks. Now there are tamper evident seals on the override switches, but, yeah more ways to hurt yourself with the doors.

    Sure, there are plenty of asshole drivers out there who are too lazy to check their mirrors… or otherwise get off on trying to trap people in the doors… but don’t contribute to the problem by trying to force your way into the train.

  • ohreally

    I was on the platform when this happened, but not right next to the woman, and from what I could see, her arm was stuck between the door and the outside of the train. The only explanation I can come up with is that the doors tried to close and failed, and when they were opening again her arm was dragged back with the door and pinned against the train.

    Pretty scary.

  • ohreally

    I was on the platform when this happened, but not right next to the woman, and from what I could see, her arm was stuck between the door and the outside of the train. The only explanation I can come up with is that the doors tried to close and failed, and when they were opening again her arm was dragged back with the door and pinned against the train.

    Pretty scary.

  • Mike

    It’s easy to say you shouldn’t try to cram your way onto a train, but people said that 3 trains had already come by too full to take more people. At some point, you have to get to work. If the sign says that it is another 5 or 6 minutes for the next train, people get frustrated and start cramming their way onto packed cars. Who knows if the next train will have any room?

    Between service reductions and the complete elimination of M service in the subway this summer, this kind of stuff is MORE likely to happen.

    The things we riders have to put up with are complete and utter BS.

  • Mike

    It’s easy to say you shouldn’t try to cram your way onto a train, but people said that 3 trains had already come by too full to take more people. At some point, you have to get to work. If the sign says that it is another 5 or 6 minutes for the next train, people get frustrated and start cramming their way onto packed cars. Who knows if the next train will have any room?

    Between service reductions and the complete elimination of M service in the subway this summer, this kind of stuff is MORE likely to happen.

    The things we riders have to put up with are complete and utter BS.

  • katiefg

    Hi everyone, this is the girl from the train. My friend forwarded me this link this morning.

    First of all, in response to Alex Zepeda, I don’t exactly understand why you feel the need to make a personal judgment and subsequent attack on my intelligence when you did not observe what happened. People attempt to make their way onto crowded trains every day, and as Mike said, it wasn’t assured that this train was more crowded than the next one. I’m sorry that you feel my actions were stupid, but there is no reason to be petty about this.

    What happened was pretty much what ohreally said. There were people behind me on the platform as well as in front of me, so when the muni driver said over the speaker that the bus was crowded, I could not back off as quickly as he or I would have liked. However, he closed the doors immediately. I imagine that he knew the sensors were on and figured the worst that would happen was that I would get scared and try to move back faster. Since there were people in front of and behind me, though, my arm got pressed against the door and when it opened again, my arm got jammed between the door and the train itself.

    The author of the munidiaries post was right, I did scream – embarrassing, but true. It was a combination of panic at thinking about what would happen if the train started moving and trying to get the driver’s attention so he didn’t start the train and take me with it. In retrospect, he probably would not have done this, but I wasn’t thinking straight as my arm was stuck to the muni and it hurt a great deal.

    Luckily some extremely nice people manually forced the door in the correct direction.
    This is the point I want to make the most clear – I told the muni driver immediately that he should leave and not hold up the rest of the passengers, and I did everything in my power not to back up the trains. I did not want to hold anyone up. I guess he had to stick around for a bit for liability reasons, though.

    I went to the hospital, and fortunately it’s not as bad as it could have been at all. A lot of gross bruising and a contusion, and I have my arm in a sling, but luckily nothing is broken. I was mostly scared and embarrassed that everyone saw me in that upset state.

    So that’s what happened, for anyone who was curious. I’ll hold off on making a big statement about “the state of muni” for now. I really just wanted to clear the air about what happened so that people would know and so that they wouldn’t say mean things about me on the internet.

    Thanks for your time, all.

  • katiefg

    Hi everyone, this is the girl from the train. My friend forwarded me this link this morning.

    First of all, in response to Alex Zepeda, I don’t exactly understand why you feel the need to make a personal judgment and subsequent attack on my intelligence when you did not observe what happened. People attempt to make their way onto crowded trains every day, and as Mike said, it wasn’t assured that this train was more crowded than the next one. I’m sorry that you feel my actions were stupid, but there is no reason to be petty about this.

    What happened was pretty much what ohreally said. There were people behind me on the platform as well as in front of me, so when the muni driver said over the speaker that the bus was crowded, I could not back off as quickly as he or I would have liked. However, he closed the doors immediately. I imagine that he knew the sensors were on and figured the worst that would happen was that I would get scared and try to move back faster. Since there were people in front of and behind me, though, my arm got pressed against the door and when it opened again, my arm got jammed between the door and the train itself.

    The author of the munidiaries post was right, I did scream – embarrassing, but true. It was a combination of panic at thinking about what would happen if the train started moving and trying to get the driver’s attention so he didn’t start the train and take me with it. In retrospect, he probably would not have done this, but I wasn’t thinking straight as my arm was stuck to the muni and it hurt a great deal.

    Luckily some extremely nice people manually forced the door in the correct direction.
    This is the point I want to make the most clear – I told the muni driver immediately that he should leave and not hold up the rest of the passengers, and I did everything in my power not to back up the trains. I did not want to hold anyone up. I guess he had to stick around for a bit for liability reasons, though.

    I went to the hospital, and fortunately it’s not as bad as it could have been at all. A lot of gross bruising and a contusion, and I have my arm in a sling, but luckily nothing is broken. I was mostly scared and embarrassed that everyone saw me in that upset state.

    So that’s what happened, for anyone who was curious. I’ll hold off on making a big statement about “the state of muni” for now. I really just wanted to clear the air about what happened so that people would know and so that they wouldn’t say mean things about me on the internet.

    Thanks for your time, all.

  • Anna Gazdowicz

    So, just because somebody (at what I imagine to be a very busy Muni office) didn’t get back to you within eight hours, you feel that it’s ok to to villainize them and make it appear that they’re being entirely neglectful and don’t care about the welfare of their riders? i.e. “Muni Won’t Tell Us How You Could Get Trapped With Your Arm Sticking Out Of Their Train”? This the public transportation system for the entire City of San Francisco, and I can imagine their offices are often too busy to respond to the myriad of local news blogs constantly barraging them with requests. I think the Appeal is having delusions of grandeur in cases like these.

  • Anna Gazdowicz

    So, just because somebody (at what I imagine to be a very busy Muni office) didn’t get back to you within eight hours, you feel that it’s ok to to villainize them and make it appear that they’re being entirely neglectful and don’t care about the welfare of their riders? i.e. “Muni Won’t Tell Us How You Could Get Trapped With Your Arm Sticking Out Of Their Train”? This the public transportation system for the entire City of San Francisco, and I can imagine their offices are often too busy to respond to the myriad of local news blogs constantly barraging them with requests. I think the Appeal is having delusions of grandeur in cases like these.

  • Xenu

    They really need to fix those damn door sensors! At the very least, they should have an emergency release on the OUTSIDE of the train.

  • Xenu

    They really need to fix those damn door sensors! At the very least, they should have an emergency release on the OUTSIDE of the train.

  • Matt Baume

    Well, it would probably be more generally accurate to say “Muni Won’t Tell Us Anything.”

  • Matt Baume

    Well, it would probably be more generally accurate to say “Muni Won’t Tell Us Anything.”

  • Eve Batey
  • Eve Batey
  • Anna Gazdowicz

    But that’s my whole point – is it really Muni’s responsibility to tell the Appeal anything at all? I’m inclined to say no. Perhaps they should issue statements on the Muni website after incidents like this, but as far as responding to each and every local blog that assumes they have a right to know everything that goes on with Muni ever – I can’t blame Muni for not responding. They have better things to do.

  • Anna Gazdowicz

    But that’s my whole point – is it really Muni’s responsibility to tell the Appeal anything at all? I’m inclined to say no. Perhaps they should issue statements on the Muni website after incidents like this, but as far as responding to each and every local blog that assumes they have a right to know everything that goes on with Muni ever – I can’t blame Muni for not responding. They have better things to do.

  • Alex Zepeda

    Yeah, it is easy. Guess what? I’ve done it. The two hour commutes downtown were too much, I agree. And, yes, I am one of those people who will wait for the next two-car outbound train (which unless you’re taking the N might as well be never). If you think it’s worth risking life and limb to get to work or home, I hope you get compensated appropriately. I don’t, so I found other options.

    There *are* other options besides cramming sticking your body parts in harm’s way to simply board a vehicle. San Francisco is an incredibly walkable city. Or you could *gasp* get a bicycle. Or use a car. Or carpool. Or skateboard. Or take taxis. Or telecommute. Or vanpool. Or move. Or find a different job. Or work different hours. Or SOMETHING. There are better options than risking permanent damage to your body. Sure, not all of the options are reasonable for everyone. But if you’ve gotten to the point in your life where the only way you can envision making money or doing the other tasks you need to complete in your day to day life is to put your body (or parts of it) directly in the path of moving doors that can crush and seriously damage your body parts… well, it’s probably time to start reevaluating your life’s choices.

    @katie

    If you find that the characterization of someone who unsafely forces their way on to trains where there is no room hits too close to home… you might want to look in the mirror for that one. If you think that taking a full two-car train out of service is petty, well I can’t help you there.

    Based on your response I imagine you don’t ride BART much. Otherwise you’d have likely experienced what happens when an over zealous rider breaks one of their doors in a manner that can’t be fixed in a few seconds: they empty the whole train (so, about 750-1000 people during rush hour) and take it out of service. Similar things happen on MUNI, except that trains cannot pass each other as easily and things back up even more.

    And, sure, the drivers ought to be more careful (in general and about closing the doors on people)… but if you can only fall back on “well everyone else does it”, that’s a poor excuse. If you can only fall back on “well they’re all that crowded”, that too is a poor excuse. Where were you when anti-transit supervisors like Alioto, Elsbernd, Chiu, Chu, Maxwell, Newsom, and the like were being elected? Where were you at the town hall meetings when it was proposed that free Sunday parking should be subsidized by TWU concessions? Where were you when billions were being sunk into the creation of the T at the expense of operating all of the other rail lines?

    The system is over capacity (especially during peak hours), and the T is the *only* line the MTA considers over 125% of capacity during peak hours. But, it didn’t get here without a lot of work from the consultants and apathy from the voters.

  • Alex Zepeda

    Yeah, it is easy. Guess what? I’ve done it. The two hour commutes downtown were too much, I agree. And, yes, I am one of those people who will wait for the next two-car outbound train (which unless you’re taking the N might as well be never). If you think it’s worth risking life and limb to get to work or home, I hope you get compensated appropriately. I don’t, so I found other options.

    There *are* other options besides cramming sticking your body parts in harm’s way to simply board a vehicle. San Francisco is an incredibly walkable city. Or you could *gasp* get a bicycle. Or use a car. Or carpool. Or skateboard. Or take taxis. Or telecommute. Or vanpool. Or move. Or find a different job. Or work different hours. Or SOMETHING. There are better options than risking permanent damage to your body. Sure, not all of the options are reasonable for everyone. But if you’ve gotten to the point in your life where the only way you can envision making money or doing the other tasks you need to complete in your day to day life is to put your body (or parts of it) directly in the path of moving doors that can crush and seriously damage your body parts… well, it’s probably time to start reevaluating your life’s choices.

    @katie

    If you find that the characterization of someone who unsafely forces their way on to trains where there is no room hits too close to home… you might want to look in the mirror for that one. If you think that taking a full two-car train out of service is petty, well I can’t help you there.

    Based on your response I imagine you don’t ride BART much. Otherwise you’d have likely experienced what happens when an over zealous rider breaks one of their doors in a manner that can’t be fixed in a few seconds: they empty the whole train (so, about 750-1000 people during rush hour) and take it out of service. Similar things happen on MUNI, except that trains cannot pass each other as easily and things back up even more.

    And, sure, the drivers ought to be more careful (in general and about closing the doors on people)… but if you can only fall back on “well everyone else does it”, that’s a poor excuse. If you can only fall back on “well they’re all that crowded”, that too is a poor excuse. Where were you when anti-transit supervisors like Alioto, Elsbernd, Chiu, Chu, Maxwell, Newsom, and the like were being elected? Where were you at the town hall meetings when it was proposed that free Sunday parking should be subsidized by TWU concessions? Where were you when billions were being sunk into the creation of the T at the expense of operating all of the other rail lines?

    The system is over capacity (especially during peak hours), and the T is the *only* line the MTA considers over 125% of capacity during peak hours. But, it didn’t get here without a lot of work from the consultants and apathy from the voters.

  • Friends of Extremities

    Where was the arm lady when they concocted the T? As a consort of the arm lady, I think I can conjure up an answer for you. She was in middle school. And then, as now, she was probably asking for it huh? All of which begs the question, where were you when the internal combustion engine was popularized? Where were you during the car manufacturers assault on the trolley network? Cause I, I was manning the barricades, fresh back from my summer fighting the Fascists in the Spanish Civil War. And where the hell were you when the Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated? WWI is totally on your hands man. You sir, may consider yourself served.

    Sincerely, the F.O.E.

  • Friends of Extremities

    Where was the arm lady when they concocted the T? As a consort of the arm lady, I think I can conjure up an answer for you. She was in middle school. And then, as now, she was probably asking for it huh? All of which begs the question, where were you when the internal combustion engine was popularized? Where were you during the car manufacturers assault on the trolley network? Cause I, I was manning the barricades, fresh back from my summer fighting the Fascists in the Spanish Civil War. And where the hell were you when the Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated? WWI is totally on your hands man. You sir, may consider yourself served.

    Sincerely, the F.O.E.

  • Greg Dewar

    Annagaz, congratulations. You have officially made one of the stupidest comments ever written. High fucking five.

  • Greg Dewar

    Annagaz, congratulations. You have officially made one of the stupidest comments ever written. High fucking five.

  • katiefg

    This is wonderfully entertaining reading material for my bi-daily BART commute on the line I’ve been taking since I was just a wee baby apathetic voter.

  • katiefg

    This is wonderfully entertaining reading material for my bi-daily BART commute on the line I’ve been taking since I was just a wee baby apathetic voter.