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History in Motion

Better Bumpers Make Better Buses

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Muni has long strived to improve service for passengers and paramount among those efforts are safety measures. One of the primary places to take a look at making our system safer is in the vehicles that carry passengers and move about the city 24/7.

This picture was taken to demonstrate a new safety feature that Muni incorporated into its buses (both trolley and motor) beginning in the late 1960s. Here we see a silent video live test of this unique bumper designed by John Rich. His bumper used a series of plastic cells filled with water to absorb impact forces in the event of a crash. While a traditional bumper of the time was meant primarily to protect bodywork from damage and look good, the water bumper actually absorbed impact forces to protect the vehicle occupants better.

'Rich' Water Filled Bumper Demonstration | October 19, 1967 | M0228_6
“Rich” Water-filled Bumper Demonstration | October 19, 1967 | M0228_6

To this day, Muni and the SFMTA's main goal is to provide a safer transportation system for everyone on the streets and our vehicles are step one in achieving that goal.

In addition to the agency's own primary strategic goal of safety, the City and County of San Francisco has adopted the policy of Vision Zero, which dedicates all relevant city departments to prioritizing street safety and eliminating traffic fatalities in the city by 2024. Every year in SF, approximately 30 people lose their lives and at least 200 more are seriously injured on city streets. All our work starts with preventing even one more. Learn more about Vision Zero.

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