Muni riders who prefer the unobstructed first row of front facing seats had better brace for disappointment, as new fears over sliding-rider lawsuits have the transit agency cutting off access to all those seats by mid-June.
According to the Guardian, a Technical Service Bulletin from New Flyer, the company that has manufactured many a Muni bus, warns its customers that "there have been three hard-braking incidents where passengers were ejected from these forward-facing seats and sustained quadriplegic injuries."
New Flyer's memo recommends that transit agencies first "locate the forward facing flip up seats that do not have a “barrier” in front of them"...
...then the agencies are instructed to permanently lock the seats in the "up" position, then to attach New-Flyer-provided decals that tell riders “This seat has been disabled for safety reasons. Please do not sit here.” You can read the entire memo here.
On their website last month, the SFMTA wrote that the transit agency first considered installing a barrier in front of these seats to prevent potential ejections, but that "the area in front of these seats needs to be left clear, so that a person in a wheelchair or other mobility device can get into and out of the securement area."
"Unfortunately, we have not been able to find another solution, and these seats will be permanently flipped up."
SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose tells the Chron that every single one of these seats will be flipped up by mid-June, and that they'll remain that way until those buses are taken out of service, some time in the next four or five years.