Muni’s new insurance policy — too late to cover this weekend’s West Portal crash? (update)

Trainwreck4 copy
Photo by 2girls1queen

Update (August 6, 2:17 p.m.): SF Appeal helps answer the question this post asked 18 days ago. Thanks, guys!

Original post: Regular service has resumed after yesterday’s West Portal accident, but the fallout is far from over. The SFAppeal reports that 48 people were injured, four of them critical. Ahem, anybody smell a lawsuit coming? This brings us to a KCBS story that a reader sent to us about how the MTA board approved the purchase of something known as catastrophe insurance, which pays for lawsuits. Pretty sad that such a policy is warranted.

But lo and behold, a mere three days following the board’s vote, an accident more or less validates that decision.

Since the MTA board just voted to purchse the “catastrophe insurance” last Wednesday, we’re not sure if a further vote is necessary to enact the insurance policy. Or does the Board of Supervisors need to approve this?

And does the policy cover Saturday’s crash? We doubt it, unless this is a magic policy that’s magically already in place. It would be nice, if only to cover Muni’s already-broke ass. If the policy isn’t in effect, we foresee the potential for multiple lawsuits. If that happens, does Muni fall into an even deeper hole? Ugh.

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?):

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From a West Portal resident: ‘Wrong Solution to Saturday’s Tragedy’

Photo by Flickr user Jamison Weiser

Media attention has turned to the manual controls of the Muni trains in the West Portal accident. We received the following email from rider and West Portal resident Mark:

Let me first say that my heart goes out to all of those who were injured Saturday afternoon in the Muni accident at West Portal.  That said, I feel like it is necessary to speak my mind on what happened because I feel that I have a unique opinion which I have not yet seen expressed by anyone in the media.

As of Monday, the media has finally drawn its attention to the procedure of taking trains off control of the ATC [editor’s note: Automatic Train Control] prior to entering West Portal Station.  As a long-time resident of the West Portal area, I know that this has been going on almost ever since the ATC went online; any regular Muni patron knows this as well. If there is no train currently in the station, the ATC brings the train in.  If there is already a train in the station, especially if it’s only a one-car train, as it was on Saturday, once the ATC has stopped the train outside of the station, drivers usually switch off the computer and take the train in manually so two trains can load/unload at the same time.  This is a very efficient procedure because West Portal is both a bottleneck inbound and outbound, as only one train can enter/exit at a time, so often during commute hours trains will be waiting to enter/exit West Portal Station.  By allowing the driver to bring in the train in manual mode, the driver takes full advantage of the three-car length platform and speeds things up a bit, which in my experience makes a big difference.

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Just Hangin’ at WP Station

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This just in from Muni rider Skajam:

I love that this guy is staring right at me. I am however fairly certain that he did not know he was being photographed. He was just sitting like this for about 10 minutes waiting for his train. I don’t know where ‘see no evil’ and ‘speak no evil’ were. Maybe he was going to meet them.

If you encounter strange flora and/or fauna in and around Muni, send it our way, please.

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