SF: Public Transportation: Great, Until It Runs You Over

ba_all_muni03_lh.jpgMUNI may complain about reduced passengers on its buses these days, but administrators are frustratingly quiet about passengers trapped underneath. On Dec. 27, a high school girl was killed by MUNI at the intersection of Bacon St and San Bruno Ave. That same day, a 50 year old man was struck (not fatally, but injured) at the same intersection. On New Year’s Eve (just 4 days later), a 70 year old man was killed by a train in Ingelside. Not a great way to end the year, nor a great way to start the new one, since in my very own neighborhood, right outside the Fireside bar where I was warming my winter-chilled bones a little before 6pm this Monday, a 90 year old woman was struck and seriously injured by the N-Judah (at Irving St. and 9th Ave.).

The Examiner reports this last accident as MUNI’s first for the year, which does not bode well coming so soon in the year’s beginning. After all, the Examiner also points to a steady increase in MUNI accidents each year:

In 2005, there were 34 collisions resulting in three deaths, according to Muni. There were 50 collisions in 2006, and four pedestrians died. In 2007, pedestrians and vehicles collided 62 times, killing seven people.

This might not look like “a lot” to some people. But if we compare these stats to New York City ( a more heavily populated city and much more a walking city that San Francisco, so more people are on the streets in general, all the time), we can find that as of November, 2007, 6 people had been killed by buses. In other words, with a month to go, New York was tied with the much less densely peopled SF. The Village Voice, an NY paper,  reports that “The number of people killed by buses is a small percentage of total motor-vehicle deaths.” Now, the same is true of SF, and many people might point out that such dangers are inherent in city living, regardless of the city. But why can’t MUNI make some concessions for public safety? All drivers, walkers, and bikers that I know look upon MUNI in fear. Buses and trains do what they want, veering out into traffic, running yellow lights, straddling two lanes, stopping and turning without warning. We’ve all learned to watch out for MUNI, because MUNI isn’t watching for us.

But most frustrating of all is the fact that people in SF have long noted the dangers of these intersections where pedestrians are being struck. In the case of 9th and Irving, residents have been clamoring– loudly– for safety measures for at least a year. The N-Judah Chronicles recounts a tale of trying to rally Mayor Newsom and SF Supervisors around safety measures that MUNI has balked at.

Loyal readers will recall that we have tried, with marginal success, to try and improve safety at 9th and Irving, both here and at the Mayor’s “blog” with mixed results. MUNI, in its imitable bureaucratic style, promised to “study” the “issue” and promised to do something.

Problem is, we were promised a “solution” (scramble signals that would give pedestrians their turn to cross the street, then keep them OFF THE ROAD when cars and LRVs and buses were in the intersection) that should have happened sometime in Spring 2007, but of course, after making promises to fix the problem they since have offered nothing but excuses and bull—-[censoring is mine].

Not sure if things will have to change now with 4 pedestrian hits in less than 2 weeks. I do know that if you are a resident of the city (or plan to be one) and you look to public transportation for your commute, you also better look at public transportation: I mean, look where it’s going, and make damn sure you aren’t anywhere near in the way.

photo credit:

Life from the Third Rail