Driver rides Muni tracks to dead end

A confused elderly woman drove her car into the West Portal Muni tunnel Wednesday and managed to traverse the entire 1.8-mile underground route to Market Street — the second case in two months of amotorist mistaking the railway tracks for a roadway.

The San Francisco driver entered the West Portal tunnel about 10 a.m., according to San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesman Judson True.

Unable to flag down the 87-year-old woman, Muni officials immediately put a notice out about the wayward vehicle and subsequently shut down all underground service between Van Ness Station and West Portal Station, True said.

The woman followed the underground train tracks all the way to the Eureka Portal, a no-longer-used exit near Market Street and Collingwood Avenue, according to True.

The Eureka Portal train tracks predate Muni’s current underground rail system, and the woman turned on to the route somewhere between Forest Hill Station and Castro Station, according to True.

As the opening was chained, Muni officials had to let her out, he said.

After being assisted out of the tunnel by Muni officials, the woman was evaluated for her driving capabilities by Police Department officers, according to police spokesman Sgt. Wilfred Williams.

The woman was not cited for the incident and, after being deemed fit to drive, the police officers followed her back to her home, according to Williams.

The woman was not injured andno damage to her car was reported, Williams said.

Because the woman entered the West Portal Station during regular operating hours, there was little Muni officials could do to prevent the incident, True said.

“We obviously can’t close the portal during the day,” True said. “Muni tunnels should be used for Muni trains.”

The incident shut down the K, L, M and T metro lines for 35 minutes, with full service being restored at 10:38 a.m., according to True. During the disruption, Muni used bus shuttles to transport travelers from West Portal Station to Van Ness Station.

On April 1, another San Francisco driver committed the same blunder, albeit under different circumstances. Alexey Serdyukov, 27, was booked on two counts of drunken driving and failure to obey traffic signs after driving more than a mile into the West Portal tunnel just before 2 a.m. He submitted to police officers after his car became lodged in the train tracks.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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