Consistently So Many San Francisco MUNI Accidents. Why?

-Posted On November 3, 2012 In Muni Accident-

This is no Halloween joke. Sometimes I wonder if some MUNI busses are driven by the Grim Reaper. Graphic designer, Roy Brubaker, created the image below as a message to us all. Roy drew this image while in his hospital bed after being run over by a MUNI bus.

While Roy’s case is ongoing, I am not going to comment about his MUNI vs. bicycle collision; however, I wanted to express my appreciation for Roy’s creativity and ironic sense of humor. Anyone who can maintain their sense of humor while confined to a hospital bed deserves high praise. And anyone who can draw this well while in pain and on pain medication is clearly very talented.

Over the last several years, in many blogs, I have expressed a growing concern over the safety record of the SF MUNI. I have noted over these years that many people are concerned about the management of the San Francisco Municipal Railway. We have good reason, for their track record is deplorable.

I have noted many cases where accidents are blamed on the MUNI operators, and while I agree that the MUNI drivers and operators may need better training and instruction, I also believe that they need much better management. The schedules for the MUNI busses are so tight that the operators have very little leeway and almost no time for a cup of coffee or a bathroom break. With all of the traffic challenges that create late busses, I can well understand why the MUNI operators are in a hurry. While their tight schedules are no excuse for bad driving, I do understand how a combination of factors can all contribute to causing a MUNI crash.

So, I wanted to put this idea out there. Are MUNI accidents on the rise, or are they occurring less frequently than ten years ago? Or twenty years ago? I don’t know the answer, however, if we go by the accidents reported in the news, I think the MUNI has been crashing at the same alarming rate for decades.

Where is the City failing in its obligation to keep the MUNI safe? Is it all of the drivers or something management does consistently to contribute to the way the operators are navigating our City streets?

Although there is no shortage of examples proving my point, earlier this year, failed brakes were suspected in a MUNI crash affecting multiple vehicles. In most other cases, the MUNI operators are suspected of wrongdoing.

This particular accident–between a streetcar, a bus, and a private car–was a slow-speed, rear-end collision, occurring on April 3, 2012, in the afternoon in San Francisco. This crash sent several people to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

Although accidents are common, public scrutiny of MUNI waxes and wanes. I urge the City government to instigate an in-depth study of why we have so many MUNI accidents and how the MUNI management can work to reduce MUNI caused injuries.

As I’ve cited before, MUNI needs better vehicle maintenance procedures to make itself more accountable for all traveler safety. The City pays out a lot of money each year in lawsuits arising from MUNI crashes.

Could it be that one of the reasons why there are so many MUNI accidents is because the City does not give the operators enough time to do their jobs safely? Or should the City be stricter in its hiring and retention policies for MUNI operators?

I’ve reported on several MUNI bus pedestrian deaths which I believe could have been prevented. I’ve reported on MUNI’s sketchy safety record.

What will it take to firmly establish safe public transportation in the City of San Francisco?

About the author: Claude Wyle is an aggressive advocate for San Francisco pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorist safety. Claude has decades of experience representing those harmed by the wrongful conduct of others, and, as a San Francisco personal injury attorney, has fought to protect the rights of injured adults and children throughout his legal career.

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