A rash of recent mechanical probems spurs serious second thoughts about whether the modern new Muni trains are really ready to roll.
This is not a good time for Hodor jokes at the SFMTA, after a harrowing incident last week where an elderly woman was dragged with her hand stuck in a malfunctioning Muni door in one of the fabulously fancy new fleet of train cars. (She was hospitalized for four days.) Video of the incident became public after the San Francisco Examiner obtained and published it, further mortifying Muni. Now the rollout of the modernized light-rail Siemens trains is being brought to a complete halt, as the Examiner reports that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is yanking back $62 million in funding they’d approved last week to purchase more of the trains in question.
“We’re not going to give them the money on Tuesday,” Peskin told the Examiner, noting the Board would reverse its previous vote to approve the $62 million in their role of oversight to the San Francisco County Transportation Authority.
Sup. Matt Haney indicated approval of the new funding was dead on arrival, but said the board would work with Muni to get the technicals flaws addressed. “We want to see exactly what they are going to do for further testing, what sort of additional safety measures they can add to the cars How we can trust that they are going to get it right. ” Haney told KGO. “And then, a timeline for how we move forward, if we move forward.”
At least four people have been somehow bodily trapped in these new Muni doors since 2017, according to the Examiner. It seems the doors sometimes do not stop when they hit a hand or something solid, as elevators doors do. This does not even take into account a separate issue with the same new trains, as NBC Bay Area reported that “couplers” connecting the double trains have been snapping off and leaving the two trains unattached.
The California Public Utilities Commission is launching a probe into both problems, according to NBC Bay Area, so Muni could have larger problems that just the loss of some already approved train-shopping money. Peskin said the funding could be “continued” if Muni can ever get its new trains’ doors in a row.