Muni Meltdown: After a five month hiatus due to pandemic, metro service fails

Muni trains were again sitting idle Tuesday. The entire light rail system is now out of service just three days after finally resuming operation.

Buses are still operating.

"I am despondent about it. Hate to be the bearer of bad news. But I am going to hold people accountable," said San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who also chairs the SF County Transportation Authority Board.

Peskin said he can't believe that after an almost five-month hiatus because of COVID-19, the rail system melted down Monday.

"There were huge construction defects that Muni and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency completely mismanaged," he said.

Muni trains returned to operation Saturday for the first time since April, but by Monday, the SFMTA says there were two problems: the overhead power lines failed, and an employee in the transportation management center tested positive for COVID-19.

"Apologies for not delivering the service SF deserves," said SFMTA Executive Director Jeffrey Tumlin. He says the employee who tested positive is part of the team that deploys trains and buses.

"We were concerned that we would not have the whole necessary team to be able to run the rail system safely. That was the exact scenario that caused us to shut down our rail system back in April," he said.

"We don't have a staff shortage. That is just not true," said Peskin.
Muni says it can fix the overhead wire problem while the system is down.

The buses have been carrying about 150,000 essential workers a day. The problems come as Bay Area mass transit officials unveiled COVID safety features on trains last week, in a public relations attempt to win back commuters, now skittish about riding any public transportation. There have been no known cases of COVID transmission on Muni.

"They give us a word of confirmation that things are changing and they don't. It makes it a little frustrating and difficult," says commuter Alex Grey.

"Having something like this happen reduces consumer and rider confidence," says Peskin.

Muni says the trains will be down at least several weeks.