San-Francisco-Muni-Safety-ViolationsIn February, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the state agency with oversight of rail and light-rail transit systems slammed Muni for pervasive safety problems. The CPUC threatened Muni with fines of up to $20,000 a day if the safety issues they cited are not addressed. For an agency currently facing a $22 million budget deficit this fiscal year, daily fines of $20,000 are not something Muni can afford.

The CPUC report listed eight major Muni safety violations, including problems with defective tracks, as well as poorly operating tunnel control systems. The CPUC report alleged that Muni dragged its feet on fixing persistent problems, such as the worn-down N Judah and J Church tracks at Church and Duboce. CPUC also claimed that Muni failed to respond to 13 findings from a 2008 audits and to dozens more inspection findings from 2009 and 2010. CPUC also accused Muni of failing to provide over 30 accident reports from the last two years.

Muni has repeatedly claimed CPUC’s allegations are unsubstantiated and obscure. In May, the SFMTA and City Attorney’s Office submitted a series of responses to the CPUC claims. Muni filed a 38-page brief addressing Church and Duboce streets, defending its automatic train-control tunnel system, and insisting Muni regularly complies with state regulations.

CPUC and Muni officials are set to discuss how Muni has responded to the CPUC investigation on Friday. This prehearing conference could determine if the CPUC investigation continues – or if CPUC levies any fines against Muni.

The conference will take place at 10 a.m. at the state office building on 505 Van Ness Ave. Stay tuned as we continue to follow the story closely.