Open-door issues on San Francisco Muni not closed

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Following the second incident in three weeks in which a train traveled through a tunnel with an open door, Muni has issued a new set of operating procedures aimed at preventing such gaffes from reoccurring.

At 10 a.m. on Thursday, a passenger using his cellphone captured footage of an L-Taraval train whipping through Muni’s underground tunnel with its door wide open. That incident, which happened near the Forest Hill Muni station, came less than three weeks after an operator took a train from Church Street station to the Castro station with an open door, an act also captured by an amateur videographer.

The latest open-door incident was found to be the result of human error, and the operator has been placed on non-driving status. Paul Rose, spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which manages Muni, said all disciplinary options are on the table for the operator, a 30-year veteran with the agency, including termination.

“Several rules were violated in this incident, placing our riders in an unsafe situation,” said Rose. 

The operator involved in the prior open-door incident, which happened April 1, has been placed on non-driving status while the agency investigates the incident. It has not been determined if human error was the cause of that mix up, Rose said.

In response to its open-door issues, Muni has proposed several potential solutions,including modifications to train doors, a review of troubleshooting procedures and creation of a standardized “cheat-sheet” for all operators, and the addition of six mechanics during peak business hours to help with malfunctions.

“We are currently doing everything we can to ensure that this issue does not happen again,” said Rose.

Muni operators have been involved in several questionable incidents in recent weeks. Two operators were recently fired — one for texting while driving, the other for kicking a family off a bus. The incidents come as the operators union is engaged in historic labor negotiations with the MTA.

Agency management thinks it can save $26 million in labor negotiations. The operators union has threatened to strike if negotiations reach an impasse.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

 

Timeline of trouble

February/April

A Muni bus operator is caught texting while driving by a passenger. Initially, she’s suspended for three days, but once more information is revealed, she’s placed back on non-driving status. After the same passenger catches her driving another bus last Thursday, she was let go by the agency on Friday.

April 1

A passenger records footage of a Muni train traveling through a tunnel with its doors open. Passengers on the train insist the operator knew the door was open. Operator is placed on non-driving status while the agency investigates the incident.

April 11

A Muni bus driver kicks a family off the 24-Divisadero for holding up service on the line. The driver, who is still on probation, is let go by the agency after it reviews footage of the incident.

April 21

For the second time in three weeks, a Muni passenger records footage of a train passing through the subway with an open door. The incident is found to be the result of human error and the operator is placed on non-driving status. He could face possible termination.

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