Muni safety record lauded same day as new crash 

The same day a Muni bus driver collided with a truck, injuring nine people, transit agency officials attempted to counter criticisms of the department by reiterating statistics that show a drop in the number of total accidents in the past year.

At a Tuesday meeting, Municipal Transportation Agency officials briefly talked about overall accidents, which declined by 8 percent between 2008 and 2009, according to the department. Collisions dropped 18 percent between January 2009 and November compared to the same time period in 2008. However, passenger accidents increased 15 percent during the same time frame, statistics show.

“Even one accident is too many, and we know we still have work to do, but the overall trend is that we’re heading in the right direction,” transit agency chief Nathaniel Ford said.

Police are investigating the early morning crash in which a Muni bus driver collided with a truck in Potrero Hill, injuring nine people, including both drivers. Seven people, including the bus driver, were sent to the hospital with injuries not considered life threatening. Two others were treated and released at the scene. The bus driver was later released from the hospital.

Police said drugs and alcohol were not likely a factor in the crash, although Muni officials said results from toxicology tests are pending.

The accident occurred about 12:05 a.m. at the intersection of De Haro and 18th streets, where there’s a four-way stop sign. The bus driver, Pete Pon, who has worked for Muni since 1979, was driving a 19-Polk bus on De Haro Street, officials said. Pon collided with a truck traveling along 18th Street, causing the bus to veer off the road, according to officials.

Muni spokesman Judson True would not release any information regarding Pon’s driving record, including whether he has had any previous accidents. Pon was tested for drugs and alcohol and has been placed on nondriving status pending further investigation, which is standard for such incidents, True said.

The collision is the first major accident for Muni this year.

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