Muni passengers waited in long lines after power lines were torn down near the Powell Station on April 26, 2019.

Tim Ryan/KCBS Radio

Defective Part Caused MUNI's Meltdown, Officials Say

Matt Bigler
May 08, 2019 - 10:45 am

SAN FRANCISCO — It turns out that last month's MUNI Metro meltdown didn't have to happen, transit officials acknowledged. 

The massive service interruption that began on the morning of April 26 was triggered by a MUNI train pulling down cable wiring in the subway. 

Now, MUNI is blaming it all on a defective part that was missed during a routine weekly inspection.

"The back of the train ripped down almost 1,000 feet of overhead wire," said MUNI Acting Director Julie Kirschbaum. 

The whole system then ground to halt for 13 hours. The breakdown affected 80,000 riders. 

Kirschbaum has told the SFMTA board that the entire incident, which she described as "one of the worst instances" she'd ever seen on the system, was completely preventable.

"I wanted to make sure we talked it through," she said. "We missed something important as part of a routine inspection, and it's something that we are taking very seriously as we move forward. A defect on that part did contribute to this incident, but at the same time, we had warning indications that we could have caught in advance."

The substantial service disruption was just the latest high-profile problem for MUNI, the list of which includes  train car couplings that don't work,  train doors shutting on people's hands and work projects disrupting service

MUNI Director Ed Reiskin tendered his resignation in the wake of the debacle. 

Kirschaum said MUNI is working to digitize maintenance records for overhead lines so workers can detect troubling patterns like the kind that led to this breakdown before they become major problems. 

 Written by Diana Shook