On the one hand, an open door on an in-motion Muni car would seem to represent a major safety hazard; on the other, maybe an open-door policy would improve on-time performance, as passengers just tumble off at their destination.

The following incident occurred on an L-train outbound, according to Alex Merenkov, who recorded and posted the video.

Check out the non-reaction of the two guys near the door. (Update: For the reason behind this, click here.) Just another day on San Francisco’s mass transit system! The guy with the headphones is probably thinking, “if this other guy falls off, I’d really rather be listening to Lady Gaga than hear the scream…”

From KCBS, Muni’s reaction to the incident:

Director of Transit John Haley said the operator was having trouble with the door, overrode a safety feature and did not use a special pin to keep the doors closed. Haley said the incident was serious and unacceptable.

“So in this particular case it doesn’t look like the procedures were followed,” he said. “Obviously this was a serious incident. We are very thankful that no one was hurt. Obviously it’s unacceptable.”

The SFMTA said they will take appropriate disciplinary action against the operator. They recommend that if you do see this happening on your train, press the red button to signal an emergency.

The California Public Utilities Commission has been investigating Muni over what it says are unresolved safety issues, though Muni has rejected the regulatory agency’s characterization of the transit system as being unresponsive to safety problems.

Update 12:50 p.m. One of our sharp-eyed readers thought he spotted Supervisor Scott Wiener in the video, and he was right, he did.

From the San Francisco Examiner:

Wiener can be seen front and center in the video, which was shot Friday at 6 p.m., on an outbound L-Taraval train that was travelling between Van Ness and Church Street stations.

Wiener said the reason for the passengers’ relatively calm demeanor was that the operator had made an onboard announcement, alerting the riders that he knew about the door malfunction. The operator asked passengers to stand clear of the open door, Wiener said. That recount differs slightly from ABC’s reporting, which stated that none of the passengers decided to alert the operator about the open door.

By the time the train arrived at Church Street station, the operator asked all the passengers to leave, so maintenance crews could inspect the broken door, Wiener said. The freshman supervisor, who made Muni reliability a top priority of his office, said he didn’t think anyone was in danger of falling out the open door, although he did have concerns that a rock or some debris might fly in and injure one of the passengers.

After getting off the train, Wiener said he immediately called Muni transit chief John Haley to report the problem. Haley already knew about the glitch and was looking into it.

Update 1 p.m. Looks like this has happened before, and recently.

Update Apr 6 KTVU interviewed Supervisor Scott Wiener, seen in the video, about the incident.

Video: Muni Train Runs With Door Open (With Guest Appearance by Supervisor Scott Wiener) 6 April,2011Jon Brooks


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor of KQED’s health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED’s daily news blog, News Fix. In 2014, he won a California Journalism Award for his coverage of ride services like Uber and Lyft and the taxi industry. A veteran blogger, he previously worked for Yahoo! in various news writing and editing roles. Jon is also a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S. He has written about film for his own blog and studied film at Boston University. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

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