Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Muni Related Accidents in San Francisco and the Problematic Procedure Instituted when an Incident Occurs

Recently, there appears to be a rise in Muni related accidents in San Francisco. It is estimated that there are nine injuries that occur each day that involve The San Francisco Municipal Railway. And the worst part of it all is the procedure that MUNI has instituted when accidents happen, discussed in detail below.

A recent tragic example of this problem happened in April of this year. While crossing the intersection of Mission and Beale Streets, a man was killed when he was hit by a MUNI bus near his place of employment. This is but one tale of many serious accidents involving the MUNI transit system.

What turned out to be one of the worst train accidents in MUNI’s history happened back in July of 2009, when a westbound Metro line-L Taraval train slammed into the back of a Metro line-KT Ingleside/Third Street train that was stopped at the boarding platform. The front of the L car was completely smashed, the car itself bent and its windshield shattered from the enormous impact. A total 48 people were injured as a result. Four people, including the driver, suffered severe injuries, and 43 sustained minor to moderate injuries. Thankfully, all were either released from the hospital or listed in stable condition.

There were differing accounts about the train’s conductor when the accident happened; some reported that he was waving his hands in the air, others noting that he was slumped over. The operator of the Muni train involved in the crash at West Portal Station told investigators he blacked out shortly before the accident, a source close to the probe told The Chronicle. The National Transportation Safety Board opened an investigation into the crash.

Unfortunately, it is an uphill battle for the injured party when a MUNI operator is involved in a collision or runs over a pedestrian or when a passenger is injured when they have fallen on a MUNI bus.

Astonishingly, the first person that the MUNI operator calls is their own dispatch, who then sends its own MUNI investigator to the scene of the accident, who takes control of the evidence, gathers witnesses and takes statements. The operator’s dispatch calls are recorded and may be obtained via a prompt and properly worded civil subpoena.

To top it off, the MUNI investigator decides whether or not to call the police! Amazingly, several videos of accidents over the years have been claimed as “lost” by MUNI? What a surprise!

It is abundantly clear that the people of San Francisco need to be informed about the tactics MUNI has been using to address this issue and institute significant change to increase the safety of our community.

By Jennifer Nicoletto, Esq.

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