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Release date: 2/18/10

*** Press Release ***

This morning at approximately 6:24 a.m., a J Church Muni Metro light rail vehicle (LRV) traveling toward downtown on the dedicated Muni right-of-way on San Jose Avenue (near the Highland Avenue overpass) struck a stationary F Market historic streetcar that was puling out from its storage yard to enter regular service. The F Market was stopped at the proper distance behind another Muni vehicle at the San Jose/Randall traffic signal.

Information from the initial investigation indicates that human error is the most likely cause of the accident. No problems have been found with the vehicle or the tracks so far, though the investigation is ongoing. The Operator of the J Church, who has been with Muni since 1980, is on non-driving status and has been tested for drugs and alcohol per normal procedure.

According to readings from on-board equipment, the LRV was traveling at 39 miles per hour (mph) at the time of impact; the Muni speed limit on the right-of-way is 35 mph under ideal conditions, but Muni Operators should always travel at a speed that is safe for conditions.

“This accident is completely unacceptable,” said Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., SFMTA Executive Director/CEO. “We must and we will continue our efforts to ensure the safety of our customers.”

Video surveillance equipment on the J Church LRV was not functioning; the SFMTA is working to determine the problem with the equipment. F Market streetcars do not have video surveillance equipment.

According to the San Francisco Fire Department, three people (F Market Muni Operator, two J customers) were transported to the hospital and two additional J customers were treated at the scene for a total of five injuries.

Bus shuttles provided service to J customers until 8:35 a.m. when regular J Church service resumed.

The total number of Muni collisions per 100,000 miles continued a downward trend in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 and the first quarter of FY 2010 (the last full reporting period). The FY 2009 total of 5.46 is the lowest of the last five years. In January 2010 there were 106 collisions involving Muni vehicles compared to 110 in January 2009.

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