By Kiet Do

HILLSDALE (KPIX 5) – A Caltrain took off, but the doors were still open. When a passenger took action, a conductor told him it wasn’t an emergency.

Tyler May was riding Caltrain last Friday, like he’s done every day for the past three and half years, when the train started moving, and he realized something was seriously wrong.

“I’m standing next to the pole, next to the doors right there, and I just see the train start taking off, with the doors wide open. And so I kind of peek my head out and all of a sudden, the train starts taking off, as you can see in the video.

As the train picked up speed leaving the Hillsdale station going about 20 miles per hour, May smashed the glass to the emergency door release and pulled the cord.

When the train kept going, May smashed the glass to the opposite door and pulled that cord too.

May said, “The conductor then shows up and questions me saying: ‘Who pulled this cable? Who did this?'”

May said he told the conductor he did it.

The conductor then asked May why he had done that.

“And I go ‘Well, because the door was open and the train was taking off. I thought this was an emergency.’ And he said to me: ‘Yeah, that doesn’t count as an emergency.’ And I go ‘Are you serious?! Are you kidding me right now?!’” May said.

Caltrain spokesperson Dan Lieberman said, “Tested the doors repeatedly and everything was closing fine. We did not see a recurrence of the problem.”

Lieberman says the system is designed so that an open door will prevent a train from taking off.

As for the confrontation between May and the conductor about whether or not an open door is an emergency?

Lieberman said, “We tend to use the term emergency when someone is in immediate danger. This is obviously a serious situation. The door is not supposed to be open when the train is moving, it’s not suppose to operate that way. But at that point, the train was already decelerating and it was coming to a stop. So, obviously a serious situation. Obviously, one that has to be dealt with, but not something that we would necessarily qualify as an emergency.”

“You’re kidding me. That’s crazy!” May said. “If a door is open and the train takes off, and they’re saying that is not an emergency, not only am I definitely afraid of that, I’m afraid for everyone who rides the train.”

If you’re riding Caltrain, and you see the door is open, should you pull the emergency stop?

Lieberman said, “You should pull the emergency stop if there is an emergency, if you think someone is in danger, it’s a dangerous situation, then that is a safe thing to do.”

Caltrain says the train underwent a complete inspection, but that it has still not been able to replicate the door problem.

Comments (2)
  1. The conductor was wrong — there have been a few deaths from people walking/falling out of open train doors. While it’s unlikely someone would fall out, the train sure as hell isn’t supposed to be moving with open doors, definitely an emergency situation. The conductor was more concerned about him pulling the cord than the fact the doors were open? That ain’t right.

  2. Adrian Brandt says:

    It’s uncommon, can happen. I’ve seen it happen with the older gallery cars too. Here’s a video of it happening on another Bombardier car in 2008: