Muni Malfunction Snarls Trains in Tunnel

Categories: Public Transit
Muni walkout.jpg
William Poor
This would have been faster. Much faster.
And how's your Friday going?

Slowly, if you're a purveyor of Muni. A malfunction with the system's signal loop -- which allows trains to enter automatic mode in the Metro Tunnel -- has led to snail-like trips in light-rail vehicles.

Muni spokesman Paul Rose said calls came in about 5:30 this morning regarding the problem. Crews continue to investigate the source of the malfunction. Trains are currently navigating the tunnel in manual mode -- i.e. slowly.

In the past, trains' sander hoses -- which pour sand on the tracks to aid braking -- have severed the signal loop cable. That has been ruled out in this case, however.

Finally, how slow is slow? It took your humble narrator 45 minutes to traverse from 18th and Church to Duboce and Church this morning. Doing the math, that's six-tenths of a mile in three-quarters of an hour, or 0.8 miles per hour. By comparison, a snail moves at only 0.03 miles per hour. So Muni isn't actually moving at a snail's pace. It is, however, moving more lethargically than a spider.

Update: Rose says the cable was repaired and trains were back on automatic as of 11:30 a.m. The underlying cause for the problem has not yet been revealed.

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1 comments
Zach
Zach

Given how often this is happening and the incredible uselessness of his information, Paul Rose should just set up an auto-responder for his incoming email: "Yes Muni is broken. No we don't know why. Yes we'll try to fix it. No I don't know when." Would provide just as much communication, but it would at least be cheaper.

When I finally got to Embarcadero this morning, my train out to the ballpark had a broken door, so we had yet another delay while an inspector fumbled around with that.

Somehow Muni operated in the subway for decades without any automatic train control system, and at more than 1 mph to boot. And yet we're spending billions of dollars to turn a slow, yet cheap and functional bus (the 30 Stockton) into an expensive subway that will undoubtedly suffer from the same constant failures as the rest of Muni's rail division.

If SFMTA cannot manage to safely and reliably operate a simple light rail service on a completely dedicated right of way without this kind of chaos occurring on a weekly basis, why on earth are we trusting them to add even more complexity?

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