Muni challenges CPUC's allegations that its rail operations are worst in state 

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has fired back at a state regulator’s allegations that its rail operations are subpar, calling some of the criticism unsubstantiated and obscure.

In February, the California Public Utilities Commission shocked Muni’s parent agency by opening up an investigation into its light-rail practices. One CPUC official called Muni’s rail operations the worst in the state, and the regulatory body threatened fines of $20,000 a day if the SFMTA didn’t clean up its act.

The regulator specifically alleged Muni has been slow to fix problems on its railway infrastructure near Church and Duboce streets. It also said Muni has failed to submit incident reports to the state and lacks a proper train-control system in its Sunset Tunnel.

Last week, in advance of a Friday hearing to look into the allegations, the SFMTA and City Attorney’s Office submitted a series of defiant responses to the CPUC’s claims. The agency filed a 38-page brief addressing issues at Church and Duboce streets, defending its automatic train-control system and operations in the Sunset Tunnel, and insisting it regularly complies with state regulations.

The documents, which also include 191 pages of testimony from Muni employees, are peppered with strong statements directed at the CPUC. For instance, the SFMTA called the allegation that its train-control system wasn’t functioning properly "without merit, baseless, and vague."

On Friday, the CPUC and the SFMTA will meet in a pre-evidentiary hearing at the state office building on Van Ness Avenue. The result of the hearing could determine what penalties, if any, await the transit agency.

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Will Reisman

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