A renegade car that entered a Muni tunnel last month at Duboce and Church Streets — well-lit "DO NOT ENTER" sign be damned — will face a fine of $55,000 to pay for the ensuing havoc to the transit system, the SFMTA and the City Attorney's Office tell the Examiner. That sum is the largest claim against a driver entering a Muni tunnel, an all-too-frequent occurrence, in at least a decade according to the City Attorney's office, which is filing the claim with the driver's insurance company.
The SFMTA explained the disruption to the N-Judah and J-Church lines on February 27th and the 28th was caused by "a subway track switch that was nearly destroyed by a motorist who drove recklessly into the tunnel." A track switch guides trains from one track to another, and with the switch non-functional, no inbound J or N trains could enter the Market Street subway via the Portal at Duboce, the SFMTA wrote. The car entered the tunnel at around 12:30 a.m. despite warning signs and raised bumps to prevent vehicles from doing so.
"We plan to recover staff overtime and other costs from the person at fault for the incident," an SFMTA spokesperson said at the time of the incident, and so, it seems, they do. SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose told the Ex that the $55,000 fine “covers the cost of additional shuttles used on three different days, repairs to the switch and its surrounding infrastructure, the cost of overtime, the cost of ambassadors, and the cost to adjust service.”
San Francisco once received $50,000 after litigation for a car that entered the same tunnel and caused damage in 2012. But this is the first time a motorist has entered the subway portal here since the lit "Do Not Enter" sign was put in place three years ago, per the SFMTA. Still, others such as this driver, have entered the Sunset tunnel at Duboce in an attempt to take a shortcut to Cole Valley,
Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated the incident took place in the Sunset Muni tunnel when in fact it occurred in the Duboce Muni tunnel.