San Francisco Muni Door Trouble Gets Worse

Muni is scrambling to conduct emergency inspections of its workhorse train car fleet after yet another door mishap, NBC Bay Area has learned.

In this week’s incident, a passenger got her hand caught in an apparently malfunctioning door as she tried to get off one of the old fleet of Breda trains on the outbound N-Judah line at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday. After about a block, the operator realized the woman was stuck and opened the door, Muni officials say. She was not injured.

Muni spokesman Paul Rose confirmed that engineers inspected the door repeatedly and eventually found a crack in the rubber tubing that is filled with pressurized air that, when the airflow is blocked by contact, causes the door to reopen. Such a crack, Muni officials say, could easily trigger a malfunction.

But as a precaution, Muni ordered inspections Thursday on 60 of its Breda cars, some of which have been operating continuously for two decades.

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“Out of the abundance of caution we are inspecting tubes within the older Breda trains to see if any of the other tubes have similar cracks and replace them as need be,” Rose told NBC Bay Area, adding that no other cracks have been found so far.

Meanwhile, Rose says, the agency is looking to confirm the cause of the crack, with age being the likely culprit.

“This is new, this is an issue we haven’t see prior to this incident,” Rose said.

The inspections come after three door mishaps since October on Muni’s new fleet, including one last month when a woman got her hand caught in a newly minted train in the Embarcadero station and was dragged onto the tracks. She suffered a collapsed lung and other injuries in the April 12 incident.

Muni acknowledges that it had similar incidents with the doors on its new fleet in October and December, prompting the agency to order that new banks of sensors be installed on its new fleet of some 60 cars.

Meanwhile, Muni is in the process of installing a system that will rely on three sets of sensors on the edges of the doors and new train cars.

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