Update 7/22/09 —SFGate, online home of the San Francisco Chronicle has posted videos of the MUNI accident.
Update 7/19/09 — CBS5 has just reported that officials from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have arrived on scene and have scheduled a news conference for this afternoon (Sunday). Their on-site investigation is expected to last through the middle part of the upcoming week.
An L-train crashed into a K-train which was stopped at the West Portal station, apparently at a higher rate of speed than is normal for MUNI trains pulling into that station. The number of injured persons varies from 44 to 48 depending on the media outlet reporting. The Chronicle reported via a quote from San Francisco Deputy Fire Chief Gardner that this was one of MUNI’s largest accidents in recent years. A quick search of the Google News archives, however, reveals several other significant accidents, mostly involving MUNI buses (not trains), in the last five years.
While two dozen people were taken to a hospital, thankfully there were no deaths reported in this accident.
The driver of the L-train was interviewed and tested for alcohol; unfortunately the K-train driver took the full strength of the force and is still in the hospital. One hopes that the cause of this accident was less preventable last year’s commuter train accident in LA, in which the driver of the train neglected his duties while text messaging behind the wheel. We love our Twitter feed as much as anyone, but only while riding–not driving.
This accident could hardly come at a worse time for MUNI, which just raised fares by 33% two weeks ago. The looming possibility of a BART strike is yet another example of the belt-tightening underway in the transit sector. One of the things we love about the Bay Area is its remarkable public transit system; hopefully it will continue to remain one of the best in the country and that safety corners will not be cut in an effort to pinch pennies.
MUNI customer service can be contacted here, and comments or complains can be directed here.