SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5 / KCBS) — A shocking video shot by a Muni passenger last Friday showed a train full of passengers being operated with the door gaping open during the ride.

On Friday night, Alex Merenkov boarded the L Taraval train during rush hour. At the Van Ness station, one of the passenger doors did not close, prompting Merenkov to record his commute.

Merenkov’s video shows the train traveling through the tunnel at regular speed with the door open. At least two passengers were standing by the open doorway. The door begins to close just as the train arrives at the Church station.

KCBS’ Bob Melrose Reports:

“My first thought was somebody push the red button, stop this train, this is dangerous, somebody is going to fall out of here,” he told CBS 5.

Merenkov did not hit the button himself because he wanted to document the dangerous situation.

“It doesn’t make me mad, it just makes me wanna go, like, ‘Hello San Francisco, like San Francisco Muni does not care about your safety at all. And they’re rude to you, they don’t care about you, and you’re gonna get hurt one of these days because of their carelessness,'” he said.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency admits operator error during 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.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (75)
  1. WFDinSF says:

    Mr. Alex Merenkov is an idiot. Prefering to get his 5 minutes of fame videoing the incident over public/human safety. Is muni in the wrong for this incident? The answer is Yes. What Mr. merenkov did was dispicable and alot worse because he actually could have done something about it before not after the fact. If something had happened to somebody not only should Muni be sued, but Mr. Merenkov also because he knew what to do.

    1. Alex says:

      It was not Marenovs responsibility to report anything, there were other people aware of this standing right to the door.

      1. Cyber says:

        Alex, as one in Law Enforcement, I hear that all the time; “I was not such-n-such’s responsibility to report anything.” It certainly was, once he readily admits he failed to act in the interest of public safety because he wanted to video. There is substantial case law on this skewed perception. The fact is, if someone had been injured, and he is the one video taping it, and he readily admits he could have pushed the “red button” and didn’t, he’d be on the short end of the stick in any civil suit filed against him. I worked years in Civil LItigation, and there comes a time, when juries do find a person should have acted.

      2. michael says:

        Very, very poor excuse. There is a lot of pressure to not cause a delay for thousands of commuters by being the one who pushes the red safety button, but if Muni riders are as concerned about safety as they say they are, they MUST take responsibility when an error is made!

      3. Ad-absurdum says:

        Cyber – you’re very misguided about civil law. Alex is right. Sadly, there’s no duty for a passerby to help someone in danger (Davidson v. City of Westminster (1982) 32 Cal.3d 197, 203 (even police officers don’t have the duty!)) aside from a child endangerment situation (CPC 152.3). In fact — I’m sure you know that EVEN AS A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER you wouldn’t be open to civil liability for not protecting others unless you’ve made a special commitment to an individual to provide protection. (DeShaney v. Winnebago County Social Services (1989) 489 US 189).

    2. PJ says:

      I agree with the comment that the videographer should have pushed the stop button or someone there should have. I think people are missing the whole point of the video, it demonstrates how people in a crowd act as cattle and can’t think for themselves and step up and do the right thing!! All they had to do was notify the driver. They compounded an error by not doing something so easy as pushing a button. That’s what this society has come to, thankfully no one was hurt!

      1. Presidente says:

        Cattle? Too harsh!
        Looks like the passengers just wanted to get home!

    3. proud_bay_man says:

      So all the people filming people die in Japan are guilty of murder?

      1. Barry says:

        proud_bay_man…. leave the debates to adults, you’re going to be late for school.

    4. ruth says:

      I also agree with you becuase How could the bus driver Know. they cold of at lease push the button. So its not on the Bus driver its also the passengers responability to make sure they and others are safe. I guess people think that they was going to get money out of it……

    5. loll says:

      i disagreewith you WFDinSF. It was time someone had proof for the lack of safety that some of the public transit have in sf has. so he taped it. Fin. Endof of story. Everyone seemed to be fine in the area of the opened door so he proceeeded to tape it. the only way something could have gone awry was if there was a tree branch sticking out and into the train route, which was not probable in the area that the train was in. Good Job Alex!. I was in the city last year and i saw a bus get to close to a platform and knock the living youknow what out of a guy. it just threw him like a rag doll. I hardly visit tthe city anymore.

  2. Peter Bradshaw says:

    Nobody’s going to press the red button and stop a train with hundreds of passengers, all in a hurry. Merenkov found a good way to get his complaint noticed, and it should make operators more careful.
    Guys who stand near the open door of a moving train are good candidates for a Darwin Award.

    1. rios says:

      you lame comments about he did a good job by not hitting the button and keep recording earns you both your darwin award.

      damn idiots you both are

      1. loll says:

        any you are chopped liver for not eating your veggies. ha ha ha!

    2. arienne says:

      amen to dat! your so right.

  3. rios says:

    he must be new to the city because this happens all the time and is nothing new. AND in typical SF fasion he choose to keep video recoding then help.

    that’s all you really need to know.

  4. Mel says:

    What blows my mind is how these two guys are just standing there next to the open door like it’s just another day on Muni. Seriously? What if the train shook a bit or the driver slammed on the brakes? The one closest to the door might have fallen out.

  5. Marilyn says:

    What MUNI calls appropriate disciplinary action will mean absolutely nothing. This operator will continue to drive the trains. Proper disciplinary action would be immediate firing.

  6. Ilya says:

    Marilyn, granted he was supposed to insert a safety pin in the door, the operator shouldn’t have to lose his/her JOB. Everyone deserves a second chance, so long as they demonstrate a willingness to learn from their mistakes. I believe this adage holds true for the vast majority of life’s situations.

  7. Calm Down says:

    By no means am I a muni supporter, but people really need to stop fussing over inconsequential things like this. Look at how people ride trains in other parts of the world, and with please might i add

    1. Jomarkk Santos says:


  8. oatmeal says:

    The guy by the door couldn’t care less about the door being open !

  9. oatmeal says:

    Americans are SO DRAMATIC ! Go ride a bus in Colombia and then tell me this isn’t safe

    1. Gomelita says:

      Exactly!! Gringos are over exaggerating here!

  10. Lula says:

    It is really sad that we have become to this point where safety for the vehicle and commuters is just being overseeing by conformism; “oh well this thing happen every day in SF” but it didn’t! MUNI has never been the best of the public transportation system in the country but it wasn’t the worse either.
    Now the question would be how safe is for San Franciscans to ride MUNI? for a lot of us we rely on MUNI to get to work, schools, and home; we don’t have another option. How far this will go?

  11. Marisa says:

    Did people even realize that there was a red emergency button? Apparently, the filming guy did but chose NOT to press it even after getting his video…

  12. deborah says:

    real people some of you need to go back to your home town and walk that extra mile from the last bus stop or make sure you are home by 8pm or walk all the way home you people come to san francisco and want to say how bad it is really if you don’t like go home because for i think the guy should have hit the button because someone that grow up in san francisco would you have to think how busy is that driver ? did any one tell the door was open ? how far was he from the door? see some from san francisco would have helped him out you should go home and walk wait did he hit any thing so what does mean he had all you life in mind but he just did not see the door and if he had stoped and put the train out of service all would still be cry why because you have to wait 10-20 min for the next now in your home town your buses run every 45min to a hour yea GO HOME

  13. Hiro says:

    SF cable cars don’t even have doors.

    1. Alfonso says:

      you are so correct buddy. Everyone just needs to complain about something. I find it funny that Alex the filmer didnt push the red button. He too didnt care about the safety and prefered to get the attention.

  14. Dave Carter says:

    I’ve been riding Muni for 20 years and I can tell you, this incident is not surprising. Every year there are accidents caused by Muni Drivers that end up in litigation – I work for a law firm that has been involved in some of these cases.

    A couple of year ago, I was on a train whose brakes locked and caught on fire. The train was quickly stopped by the emergency system just outside Van Ness station as the car filled with smoke, making it difficult to breath. Neither the driver nor a station manager who also happened to be on the train would open the doors and allow riders to evacuate to the platform – which was only 30 yards away. Riders (many of whom were panicked) were kept in the car for over 10 minutes while the driver called dispatch to see what they should do. The driver seemed to not have a clue about what to do in an emergency of this type. I and several other riders called Muni to make a complaint, but were brushed off and never contacted again to file a report. So, yes, those of us who ride Muni have come to expect things like this…

  15. S says:

    Well, alex the filmer cannot completely blame Muni in this incident because he didn’t care about his own safety either, since he didnt press the button. How is the operator (who is always facing foward) know that a door opened up BEHIND HIM without somebody there TELLING HIM.

    This video does accomplish one thing, which is getting that door fixed and probably getting all the doors on that train inspected.

  16. Stephano says:

    his voice is sooo cute!

  17. Matt W says:

    has anyone pointed out that the surprised tall guy with the beard in the video is SF Supervisor Scott Weiner (D-8)? Why didn’t he hit the red button?

    1. SP says:

      I recognized him, too. What are you doing to fix MUNI, Mr. Wiener????

  18. Steven says:

    The one reality, if any person standing next to the door, had fallen out or was injured, they’d have little claim in a Civil Suit. As a General Counsel, if the guy doing the video caught the injury, his video clearly shows NO ONE acted to end the danger. So, this would be one of those; “OMG MUNI’s at fault” Well, in this case, the same video showing the person injured, would have showed everyone, including the injured person just standing there, and that, my friends, is Civil Culpability. Can’t blame the horse for not holding the cart, if you didn’t lock the reins.

  19. Lunan Chow says:

    I used to live in SF years ago (1994-2001) and took MUNI all the time. I can tell you this kind of thing happen all the time back then. It doesn’t surprise me at all.

  20. Saul says:

    Come on! Common sense is key. You see the door open while in motion and think is dangerous, stay away from it and let the operator know or press the damn button. is time for people to start taking more responsibility about their own safety and others. A lot accidents could be avoided if people would have done something.

  21. spike says:

    This is what society has come to…not only does no one do anything, but some guy notices and instead of looking out for safety spends his time making a video of it…and then complaining the driver didn’t do anything. Did HE NOTIFY THE DRIVER? DID HE PUSH THE RED BUTTON? Absolutely disgusting. What would he have done if someone fell out? Videoed that too I suppose. This guy should be ashamed of himself.

    1. bob says:

      he has to video tape it for PROOF? “”DUHH””?? muni people are not gona release proof video images against themselves, they’re gona discard the video and deny it! and u can’t blame anyone but your self for your own ignorance! if the idiots leaning/standing on/next to the other half of the door with his hand- happens to fall through and DIE so what? that’s his own fault, his family gets a check, NOT to lean on a door that has the potential to open and u fall out turning into a pulp, it’s called COMMMMEN SENSE!!!

  22. Jomarkk says:

    The title should have been “It’s the end of the World” because people don’t care.

  23. Mark beatty says:

    It would seem to me, if a person, which we all are, would take more responsibility for the situation and push the red button. Obviously, that was a selfish thing to do, to take a video. Cowardly! To care about people is, should, be our first priority.

  24. Tawny Punani says:

    This happens quite often actually. Ive been on MULTIPLE trains where the doors get stuck and stay open and the operators dont give half a damn about it.

    Kids ride on the back of the trains through the tunnels and somehow this is a big deal. This really is an every day thing on Muni. I mean really what does everyone expect. Take your chances on the bus or in your car. either way you just have to like it or lump it.

  25. Jo says:

    HAHAHAHAHA his voice is funny ( :

  26. Bea says:

    The on-location reporter, Grace hit the nail on the head when she reflected that the reason none of the other passengers in the video were panicking might be that this sort of thing is what they have come to expect from muni. The first time I rode on a bus with the emergency exit windows unlatched and flapping in the wind at every turn, I felt a bit worried. Since I now realize it is a regular occurrence, I don’t even bat an eyelash. Same thing for broken doors, verbal and physical assaults, vandalism, excessive grime, odor, etc. Sad.

  27. WARREN says:


  28. josh says:

    Good thing nobody offered the guy a ride on a motorcycle. He would have really freaked out!

  29. u-make-me-mad says:

    Alex, you saw the dangerous situation, but instead of making the people who standing near the door to stay away or hitting the red button, you are trying to take this chance to tape the video, this can earn you the attention from the press. In case someone fell death or injure, then you have a real-TV video paid by those victims. This is called hypocrisy.

  30. Dumb People says:

    OMG! Give me back these few minutes of my life. Making a big deal of an open door you bunch of whiners. I can’t believe this drew so much attention. Looks like this incident directly equates in magnitude to the Japanese Tsunami. Makes me feel sad thinking how spoiled some people around me are. Get a life !!!

  31. WhySoSerious says:

    Folks, there is nothing to worry about. Wonder why everyone is making a big issue out of it? Only if someone is standing at the edge, then he/she may fall off the train. Since you know that the door is open, don’t stand near the edge, which is what everyone did, as I see in the video. Then how will anyone get hurt?
    I feel you are making a big issue out of nothing. From what the speaker tells in the video, it makes me wonder if some super power would pull this guy out of the door, even though he is standing inside 🙂

  32. James D. says:

    train operators need to stop smoking that bomb ass grand daddy purp and think about the safety of the disabled, the children and little old ladies who are riding on their trains. Sue them. THey need to learn that risking peoples safety is unacceptable, they could have easily swapped out the train with one that was working properly, but instead they were more concerned with getting passengers to their destinations on time, rather than their safety.

  33. DKJ says:

    Looks like the normal way to travel for Indian trains…….. only there would be four times as many people packed into the car with people holding on to those at the open door……

  34. Kathy says:

    Obviously they need to post a sign on the door for the dumbells, “Please press red button if door fails to close.” Or maybe even go further, “Please press red button if a safety issue arises.”

  35. Spencer says:

    People now a days are dumb, they’re rather take video of a train wreck on their phone rather than call 911 for help, or god forbid do something about it themselves. The only thing i see in this video is a train full of people who don’t give a damn.

  36. matt c says:

    And note the video pans to show Supervisor Scott Weiner there and he doesn’t seem to be doing anything. Wouldn’t you think more of a public official?

  37. rsher says:

    if the red button causes a quick stop it could have thrown riders off their feet and towards the open door, no?

  38. Jason says:

    Isn’t that Supervisor Scott Weiner on the train, just to the left of the camera?

  39. Ken says:

    I find it funny about the big deal about pushing the red button. Who can be sure that once the red button is pushed that there would be any response from the driver, have seen this happen too many times. I rode the L for two years and can tell you it is a good day if they respond. A lot of the drivers are not happy campers if they have to leave their compartment. A good day might be an announcement on the pa from someone who sounds like he or she has their fist and all their fingers in their mouths as they give a safety advisory.

  40. Shae says:

    Should have pushed the red button. If the driver wasn’t aware then how could he correct the problem.

  41. Tim Aldridge says:

    Alex, you got your bit of attention… and you should have pressed the button. /fail

  42. PB says:

    What happened to Dana’s hair?

  43. More Moron says:

    morons, this happena ll the time in all the rest of the third world

  44. Rottenclam says:

    Why is anybody concerned about this? An open-door policy is completely in-line with how our US borders currently operate. We’re just getting into that same spirit in our public transportation now.

    I thought this is what everybody in San Francisco wanted. *shrugs*

  45. Karan Bheda says:

    If a slight open door is dangerous … what do you say about this ? , and with this too, there are no accidents …

  46. Cindy says:

    Did anyone else notice that Supervisor Scott Weiner was also in the video? Why didn’t he speak out to the other two passengers to step back or something?

  47. Seer Clearly says:

    Everything about this story is sensationalism. Equipment fails and the passengers should have pressed the button if they felt unsafe, or not if they didn’t. Certainly the operator should have been notified. You may not remember this but door problems were rampant in the first 10 years of BART operation, without continuous news stories…