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Between-car Barriers Enhance Safety on Muni Metro

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which oversees transportation in the city, including the Municipal Railway (Muni), today announced the installation of between-car barriers on Muni Metro light rail vehicles (LRV) to increase rider safety. The barriers have been installed at the ends of each LRV to cover the gap between two connected trains. They are designed to act as a deterrent to riders inadvertently stepping or falling between adjoined LRVs.

“We are constantly working towards improving safety on our system,” said Ed Reiskin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. “The yellow and black stripes are visual and physical indicators that are designed to get the attention of our customers to prevent accidents in our subways and streets.”

The striped elastic devices represent years of trial and error for technical Muni staff as they conducted research and reviewed best practices. The barriers also ensure compliance with state and federal safety regulations. 

“Staff worked with manufacturers over a period of several months testing many designs,” said John Haley, SFMTA Director of Transit Operations. “The successful solution works with our vehicles and within the entire Metro system where maneuvering around tight turns and on demanding routes can be challenging.”

SFMTA technical staff had to find a high tension spring that allows for expansion of up to 13 feet and retraction of the belt as two-car trains navigate the various tight turns within the Muni Metro system, such as 9th and Judah and 9th and Irving on the N Judah line. All light rail vehicles have been fitted with the barriers to improve safety conditions.

The barriers are just one of many infrastructure improvements for people with limited mobility or other disabilities on Muni vehicles and at Muni stations and stops. The City and County of San Francisco has also identified a need for improvements when it comes to accessibility and is proposing a strategic infrastructure improvement program for the November 2014 ballot. The “Transportation 2030” funding program ensures that Muni continues to be safe and accessible for everyone and serves the needs of people with disabilities. Funding from Transportation 2013 would go towards repaving neighborhood roads, improving transit reliability and building safer streets.

Should voters approve the measures, new funds could be used to improve subway entrances, elevators, escalators and new Muni boarding islands to improve the safety and accessibility to Muni.