Video shows Muni door open while train moving

Muni door open on train while moving
April 5, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Dramatic and disturbing video taken aboard a crowded San Francisco Muni train shows a fast moving train with the door wide open. The video was posted on YouTube Monday night. It also reveals a San Francisco supervisor was on board at the time and did nothing to alert the driver. This is not the first time this kind of thing has happened, but officials are at a loss to explain it.

The incident happened underground on the L-Taraval line between Van Ness and Church. With the train barreling along underground, passenger Alex Merenkov pulled out his camera and documented the Muni train door sliding open and closed as passengers seemingly unaware of the danger stood just inches from the opening. The man with the beard seen standing next to Merenkov is County Supervisor Scott Weiner.

"I didn't feel like people we were going to fall off the train, but I was worried that there might be a rock or an object that could come in through the doors since you're traveling so quickly through the subway," said Weiner.

Weiner says he didn't pull the emergency brake cable for fear that someone might be injured in the sudden stop, and besides, he said, the train operator knew the door was open.

"And the operator came on to the intercom pretty shortly into the trip when we were in the tunnel announcing that he was aware of it and people should stay away from the door and then we went just went all the way to Church station," said Weiner.

Transit officials say it is the second time in a little more than a year that they have seen this happen. Riders on the L-Taraval confirm it's uncommon.

"I would emphasize, first of all, that these are extremely rare, that this is an unusual occurrence," said John Haley, Muni's director of transit operations.

Haley told reporters driving with the door open is rare, but door malfunctions happen all the time, and when they do, train operator must take the door off line or the train won't move.

"You call the control center, you put the emergency brake on, you isolate the door and you pin the door," said Haley.

In this case, Haley admits it appears the train operator did not pin the door closed. The operator is a 10-year Muni veteran who has been operating like this since September.

"The operator is in non-driving status and we will take appropriate action when we complete the investigation," said Haley.

Coincidently, there was a regularly scheduled Muni transit board meeting at City Hall Tuesday afternoon. ABC7 was there for the first couple of hours of the meeting, but the subject of the train door never came up.


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