SF politicos to halt new Muni train funding after media exposes faulty doors, couplers

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency wants $62 million from The City to “fast-track” buying 151 new Muni trains.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency wants $62 million from The City to “fast-track” buying 151 new Muni trains.

Last week San Francisco politicos said yes, but now they are telling SFMTA “no.”

Supervisor Aaron Peskin said that in light of recently unearthed mechanical issues with Muni’s future fleet supervisors would be “irresponsible” to approve more taxpayer funds toward purchasing them.

SFMTA has said previously that purchasing new trains is vital to on-time Muni service.

Board of Supervisors also serves a second role as the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, where its members regularly disburse funding to SFMTA. Tuesday, they were slated to do so again.

Not anymore.

“We’re not going to give them the money on Tuesday,” Peskin told the San Francisco Examiner.

Peskin said SFMTA has agreed to the halt in funding and the vote may be “continued” to a future date, after an independent investigation concludes the Muni trains are safe.

Two news investigations last week exposed potentially systemic mechanical issues with the SFMTA’s new $1.1 billion future Muni fleet, constructed by Siemens USA.

In the first investigation, published Wednesday, the San Francisco Examiner revealed that faulty train doors were known to “lock” on objects, including people. Video the Examiner obtained showed an April 12 incident where a woman’s hand became trapped in the doors of a new Muni train at Embarcadero station.

The train dragged her off the platform and threw her onto the tracks.

She was hospitalized in “serious condition,” according to the San Francisco Fire Department. On April 16 she was discharged from Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, according to a hospital spokesperson.

The second investigation, also published Wednesday, saw NBC Bay Area reveal another new Muni train malfunction that also occurred on April 12. A part called a “shear-pin,” which fits into a coupler to link the trains, failed. Since the incident was discovered, SFMTA has run its new trains individually only.

State regulators have launched a probe into both mechanical failures. The California Public Utilities Commission, which oversees rail safety statewide, is conducting the investigation.

“It’s a perfect storm and a bad week for the MTA,” Peskin said.


The downturn persists

Examiner analysis reveals that San Francisco’s economy has a long road to recovery

It’s the Year of the S.F. Recall — but who pays and who benefits politically?

Recalls may become more frequent and contribute to political destabilization