(Dan Chambers/Special to S.F. Examiner)

‘Restrictive mode’ does not pose threat to street safety

“Aging buses threaten street safety,” The City, Oct. 7

‘Restrictive mode’ does not pose threat to street safety

Thanks for the coverage regarding the important issue of our aging trolley fleet. To be clear, these vehicles do have breakdown issues, but they do not pose a safety issue on San Francisco streets. Every vehicle goes through routine maintenance and is checked every morning to ensure the vehicle is safe for operation. We only put vehicles on the street that are safe and meet all state requirements for Muni service.

For the purposes of clarity, I want to point out that [the Oct. 7] article was dealing with two separate issues. First, the incident on Oct. 3rd, where a trolley ran into a moving van, was caused by a rare electronic issue with the bus’ computer system. An issue so rare that it has never occurred on Muni in 110 million operating miles. We were able to identify the issue and determined it was isolated to the specific bus in question.

Second, is the issue of what is called “restrictive mode.” This mode is a diagnostics tool that is meant to notify the operator that there is an issue with the bus that needs checking. It is kind of like the “check engine” light that many people have in their own cars. It’s important to note that the vehicles do not lose brakes in restrictive mode, so operators can stop the vehicles as they normally would.

Furthermore, a survey of recent issues where “restrictive mode” was involved, showed that not one of them involved a collision or put passengers at risk. “Restrictive mode” is fairly common, but does not pose a threat to safety and the results are not as dramatic as the anonymous sources have portrayed.

The bottom line here is we do need new trolleys and that is why they are on their way. We need them to improve reliability, not because the current trolleys aren’t safe to operate.

John Haley
SFMTA Director of Transit

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