Light-rail vehicles collide at West Portal, dozens injured (w/updates + video)

Muni Crash at West Portal Station in San Francisco
Photo by Flickr user chrisjbarker

Started seeing many tweets just now about an apparent Muni collision near West Portal Station. We’ll try to update this post as frequently as possible with new information. For now, there are reports of 12 injuries, and delays on the K, L, and M lines in both directions. Updates are in reverse-chronological order, beginning with the latest:

Update:(Wednesday) just caught wind, via Twitter, of the first-ever videos of the crash, from SFGateSF Appeal (wtf, SFGate?):

SFGate (Sunday):

The operator of the Muni train involved in Saturday’s crash at West Portal Station told investigators he blacked out shortly before the accident, a source close to the probe told The Chronicle.

Huffington Post (Sunday):

The operator of a light-rail train that crashed and injured dozens of passengers in San Francisco came under scrutiny Sunday as federal investigators tried to figure out why he inexplicably turned off the automatic controls moments before the collision.

CBS 5 (Sunday):

The National Transportation Safety Board was focusing on human error by a train driver, and not any mechanical problem, as the likely cause of a weekend collision between two San Francisco Municipal Railway light-rail trains that injured nearly 50 people, officials said.

New York Times (Sunday):

Witnesses said more than a dozen people sat on benches along the boarding platform after the crash, some of them bleeding from their heads. Most of the passengers were adults. The cause of the crash was under investigation. Judson True, a railway spokesman, said investigators would look at “mechanical and human issues.”

SFGate, Sunday:

“This is probably one of the largest we’ve had” in recent years, Gardner said of the crash, referring to the number of people injured. Federal and state investigators have been notified of the crash, True said. A spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board said his agency was considering launching a formal probe.

CBS 5 (video, Sunday):

“The driver looked like he was asleep, or passed-out,” eyewitness Nancy Martin said.

(click here for Muni Diaries’ thoughts on judging what has happened before we know the facts.)

ABC 7:

At least 47 people were taken to area hospitals, three in serious condition.

CBS 5 (running a Bay City News report):

About 60 people have been injured in a collision between two San Francisco Municipal Railway light rail vehicles this afternoon at the city’s West Portal Station, according to the Police Department.

SF Gate: An L rear-ended a K at West Portal. Multiple injuries; none believed to be life-threatening, according to MTA spokesperson Judson True.

@chrisjb:

Just saw two MUNI trains collide at the West Portal station. Looks like there are a lot of injuries. Scary.

@alonis:

KCBS News Radio reporter: “K car stopped at station when L car ‘barreled’ into back of the K car. Very, very serious collision.” #Muni #SF

@trackdude:

was just in the muni crash on the L taraval about 20 minutes ago. Only bruised my forehead but saw lots of blood

511.org:

On Saturday, July 18th at 3:15 pm, SF Muni is advising major service delays on the K, L and M light rail lines due to an accident between two light rail vehicles. There is no light rail service between the West Portal and Castro station. Shuttle buses are in service between those two stations. Passengers are advised to consider alternate routes. There is no estimated time for the resumption of normal service.

Breaking News:

Two Muni light rail trains have collided at West Portal Station in San Francisco, injuring at least 12 people, officials say.

ABC7:

The collision happened around 3:00 p.m. Muni reports that both trains were headed outbound at the time of the crash. Officials say four passengers have been transported to San Francisco General hospital.

Again, Muni Diaries will update this post as more information flows in. If you have any info, comment or email us at muni.diaries.sf@gmail.com. Ignorant comments, or those to the effect of “Fuck Muni” or “Muni sux” will be deleted.

7 comments

  • free the Muni

    This doesn’t surprise me. I was riding the 6 bus a month ago, and the bus driver was talking on her cell phone….

    • let’s hold off judging what happened until we know the facts, eh? there are any number of reasons this happened, and when we’re talking about an event in which this many people were hurt, we think its best to hold our collective breath. especially if the NTSB gets involved, we should have some answers soon. casting blame before we really know what happens is just a coping mechanism. let’s try to be civilized.

  • Tongcheng

    There is always obsfucation and cover up when an operator is at fault. Have you heard what really happened int the DC Metro crash?? No, and we probably won’t.

  • Daishin Sunseri

    It’s just MUNI in its normal dysfunctional mode of operation. MUNI is a joke and we all know it. When will it be fixed? I hope in my lifetime!

  • Thanks for the great reporting. The video footage shows the speed prior to impact, which is far greater than I imagined. I do think it was considering standard operating procedure to turn off automatic controls going into the West Portal station, so the drivers could get 2 cars up to that platform. Now, that there’s been an accident I find it odd they want to blame this aspect of SOP on that action. I found the comment interesting left by another reader (under Muni’s new insurance policy…) about the dead man’s switch being rendered so inoperative that a “dead man” could literally still drive the Muni. I would think that would be the flaw in the whole plan if they overrode automatic controls. Did anyone else come forward to substantiate that information?

    • @Driver: as of now, no, no one has substantiated the “Dead Man’s Lever” claim. i don’t disbelieve it; it’s just that i’d like some verification.

  • More video footage found! From the camera mounted on the outbound side right above or near(?) the 2nd station agent’s booth.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/matierandross/detail?blogid=61&entry_id=44091

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