All that nasty hand-wringing and name-calling that came out earlier this year between the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the California Public Utilities Commission appears to have dissipated, as the two sides now are content on playing nice to avoid any looming legal battles over Muni’s rail system.
In February, the CPUC, which regulates rail operations in California, issued a litany of violations with Muni’s Metro system, finding faults with its safety, infrastructure and efficiency standards. The SFMTA, which operates Muni, fired back, calling the allegations unfounded and baseless.
The dust-up pitted the public agencies against each other in a procedural showdown that could have resulted in the SFMTA facing fines of up to $20,000 a day.
However, on Thursday, the two sides met in a prehearing conference to discuss how they’ve made progress in settling their dispute. Lawyers from both the SFMTA and the CPUC said they are working on a settlement agreement that could be reached by the end of November. This would avoid any protracted legal battles between the two sides.
Because the terms of the mediation are confidential, neither side could discuss what the settlement could entail.
Allison Brown, a lawyer for the CPUC, did say that the two sides “were heading in the right direction.”
How much progress is made on those talks will become clearer on Oct. 17, when the both the CPUC and the SFMTA are expected to issue a joint status report on the mediation terms.