SFMTA: Muni Metro electrical outlets are dangerous


Photo by Timo Heuer

We got a curious response via Twitter yesterday afternoon from the SFMTA about electrical outlets on the bus. It turns out that, according to the SFMTA, you might not want to use these outlets because they’re 600 volts and may damage your device.

This seemed curious because, to our knowledge, people have been delighted to find and plug electronics into these outlets on a fairly frequent basis.

Several @munidiaries followers called bullshit on Muni for suggesting such a thing. We’ll put a call in to SFMTA to get more information. Meanwhile, some of our followers have pointed out that “If that were true, Muni would be liable for terminating it in an outlet rated for 120v@15A” — via @toxic

So, Muni, which is? Dangerous? Not for public use? Or, are you trying to avoid the inevitable bum rush when everyone tries to charge their weak-ass-battery-having smart thing?



  1. L

    I’ve been plugging my phone in those outlets all the time for the past few years, and nothing’s ever happened. I have been told at least twice by MUNI agents that I’m not allowed to, but they never told me why.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

    • A

      At least twice is the point…if only they enforce the food rule half as much.

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  2. I’ve used the outlet on the N Judah before, my phone didn’t blow up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. Katie

    I use the outlets with frequency. Maybe my battery wouldn’t drain so quickly if I didn’t play with my phone waiting for muni for quite so long.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  4. Ed

    Coming soon from Nokapplesungerola: The ALL NEW Weak-Ass-Battery-Having Smart Thing!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  5. patricia

    say wha? i don’t even know where the outlets are…

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    • Toxic

      They’re in the middle of the train, on the bulkhead where the accordion-fold is. If you’re sitting next to the bulkhead, on one of the seats that face sideways, it’ll be under your right knee.

      It’s a standard NEMA 5-15 or 5-20 outlet, and if it’s got anything other than 120VAC feeding it, it’d be a rather gross violation of the electrical code. I assume it’s fed by an inverter somewhere on the train, so it’s probably not the cleanest of power, but it’s good enough for an AC->DC transformer. I suspect, that when these trains are delivered in carpeted form, that the outlet is good enough to power the motor of a vacuum cleaner.

      I’ve never used one, but I’ve seen all sorts of chargers plugged into them over the last few years. None have blown up.

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  6. patricia

    wow, thanks for the tip, Toxic. Though I’m not sure I’ll ever need it, good to know

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  7. Palal

    They’re 120V. They can be used by cleaning equipment (e.g. vacuum cleaners) when the trains are in the depot being cleaned.

    BART cars have similar outlets in the middle of each car under the seats whose backs face each-other. I’ve never been successful in getting those to work though.

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