Muni operators calling for expansion of safety regulation to include buses 

One bus operator talked about working on a compression machine that blew a bus door off, with the accident nearly causing a fatality. Another driver spoke of a climate where service speeds are prioritized over safety standards.

These stories came out Friday when San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency officials discussed the recent investigation into their rail program by the California Public Utilities Commission, the state regulator of all public train operations.

With the agency’s rail operations under heavy scrutiny, Muni’s transit operators are now calling for an expansion of the investigation to include the agency’s 800-vehicle bus fleet. That expansion, however, is beyond the responsibility of the CPUC.

While rail operations are under the purview of the CPUC, theCalifornia Highway Patrol is the lead regulator of Muni’s bus system. CHP officials annually conduct maintenance inspections on Muni’s bus fleet, along with review training and licensing standards of the agency’s operators. CHP also reviews service records and has the power to remove underperforming buses from streets or issue fines to the agency for lack of compliance with California vehicle laws, according to Erin Komatsubara, public affairs officer with the CHP.

Dorian Maxwell, the Muni operator who described the bus-door accident, pleaded for more investigation into the safety practices of the agency’s bus operations. He mentioned bald tires and defective headlights on buses as evidence of the need for regulations.

Rafael Cabrera, spokesman for the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, which represents 2,200 Muni operators, urged regulators to expand their oversight efforts from rail operations to bus operations.

“Of course we would welcome more regulation,” Cabrera said. “The conditions which we operate under are not safe for our workers or our passengers.”

However, Komatsubara said she didn’t know if the CHP had a specific investigation planned for Muni’s buses that would mirror the CPUC’s recent crackdown on the agency’s rail lines.

Paul Rose, spokesman for the SFMTA, which operates Muni, said the operations of the agency’s bus fleet are constantly being reviewed by inspectors from the CHP and the Federal Transit Administration.

“We’re committed to working with our partner agencies that provide operational oversight throughout our system,” Rose said.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

Daily transit


800 Muni buses in operation
504,000 Daily passengers who travel on Muni’s bus system
72 Percentage of system’s total ridership that travels on buses

Source: SFMTA

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Will Reisman

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