SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – New temporary safety measures have been introduced for some doors on newer San Francisco Muni light-rail vehicles after a woman got her hand stuck in the door of a train car and was dragged down the platform.
However, officials with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency admitted that the problem that caused her to get trapped still hasn’t been solved.
The temporary solution SFMTA offered on Tuesday was to simple keep some of the train doors locked altogether.
The incident involving one of the agency’s new train cars happened on Friday, April 12 and has prompted Muni to ask the manufacturer questions about the safety of the new fleet.
An elderly woman attempting to enter the new N-Judah train got caught in the door. A Muni staff member told her to move away from the car, but the train began to move and she was quickly pulled down between the train and the platform.
The doors are equipped with sensors that are supposed to detect when an object is caught in them and open for safety.
The SFMTA said it has wrapped up preliminary testing with the new fleet’s manufacturer, Siemens, where they were able to replicate the problem.
“At some angles, if we either manipulated the rubber or had our hands at a specific angle, it would close,” explained Julie Kirschbaum with the SFMTA.
But the agency does not know how to fix the issue yet.
“I don’t think we have a full understanding of the cause or a solution,” said SFMTA spokesperson Ed Reiskin.
In the meantime, they are locking the back doors of the train so the operator can keep a closer eye on the front doors and make sure no one gets stuck.
At least one rider didn’t see this as much of a fix. “I can’t see that stopping people from trying to hop on last second,” said Muni rider Richard Kaehler.
Muni is also sending additional warnings over the intercom about staying behind the yellow line. One rider told KPIX she is taking her own precautions.
“Definitely more aware when I’m entering and getting out, just being sure that nothing gets caught,” said Muni rider Andrea Rodriguez.
Earlier this month, a shear pin — the mechanism that joins two cars together — broke off on a Muni train. That spurred an inspection of the cars that turned up a second broken coupling pin.
Muni’s solution to that problem has been to run the new trains as single cars only.
Despite the issues, the SFMTA says it stands by the manufacturer and has more cars on order.
“They’ve been very transparent with their findings and they seem very committed to working with us to find a solution,” said Kirschbaum.
Muni has 60 of the new cars in its fleet right now, with eight more on the way.
The SFMTA is bringing in an independent consultant to figure out what’s next, and continue working with the manufacturer and the state public utilities commission, which is doing its own investigation.