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Muni temporarily disabling doors on new trains

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Rear doors locked for safety after complaints and injuries

Photo by Alison Yin/AP Images for Siemens

On Monday, Muni riders in underground stations heard a new announcement warning that the rearmost doors on the new Siemens-built cars were locked until further notice and that passengers will have to use the middle or front doors to board and exit.

Via Twitter, SFMTA provided the additional detail that this was done “as a safety precaution.”

While the agency wasn’t more specific, it’s clear the announcement was in response to reports about the alleged defects on the doors on some new trains, which may close on passengers and injure them, In one case, a woman was dragged along a platform by a train door earlier this month.

Note that the middle and front doors, which are still operating on all trains, may also have this problem. Freezing the rear doors merely prevents people, who are rushing to catch a departing train, from forcing their way through the nearest door.

Above all, passengers are asked to show extreme caution and do not be anywhere near the train doors when they close, even if the doors have previously appeared to work properly.

Last week, acting Muni Transit Director Julie Kirschbaum demonstrated for reporters how the safety measures on the doors are supposed to work. During the demo, she briefly became stuck in them.

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority was meant to vote Tuesday on a measure that would direct almost $63 million in sales tax funds toward new train purchases.

“Transportation Authority staff recommended allocating a total of $62,767,634 in Prop K funds to the SFMTA for Light Rail Vehicle Procurement,” according to the agenda item. However, the vote will be delayed until SFMTA identifies and solves whatever the potential problems with its doors may be.

[Update: On Tuesday SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin made a public statement about the status of the train doors, insisting that they had passed muster but saying that agency is taking extra precautions anyway:

While all the doors passed safety standards, the single-pane doors at the front and rear were not as sensitive as we believe they should be while operating in service.

[...] The Siemens LRV4 doors were tested extensively prior to entering service to ensure that they comply with American Public Transportation Association industry safety standards and were certified for revenue service by the California Public Utilities Commission.

Out of an abundance of caution, we immediately put into place a series of measures, which were also reviewed by CPUC staff, [including] Locking the rear doors of all Siemens LRV4 trains until a solution can be implemented.

Reiskin says locking the rear doors leaves the train operators free to keep particularly focus on the front doors and make sure they suffer no mishaps.

He also again reminded riders not to try to block or open the doors on trains, no matter what.]