Muni permanently locks up front facing seats, fearing lawsuits

|
(51)
A Muni seat with its bottom half snapped upright.
Photo by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Regular Muni riders have no doubt seen the wheelchair-accessible seats, located just in front of Muni's middle door, snapped up in the upright position. A seat not for sitting, leading confused riders to wonder: why has Muni left these seats permanently upright?

The answer is actually pretty simple, if you follow the documents. Muni fears a lawsuit, and maybe with good reason. A warning from one manufacturer of Muni buses, New Flyer, has transit circles spooked.

The warning didn't mention any lawsuits, but CalTIP, who insurers transit agencies across California (but not Muni), warned its members of potential lawsuits stemming from the forward facing seats:

In the summer of 2012, a CalTIP member experienced an incident where a passenger was thrown out of a first row front-facing flip-up seat (right side aisle seat) when the operator applied the brakes hard to avoid a collision with another vehicle. Although the passenger indicated at the time he was OK, he eventually filed an injury claim. The case closed with a total cost of approximately four times the average CalTIP loss rate.

New Flyer warned that three similar accidents occurred, though it did not mention lawsuits related to those incidents. In response, California transit agencies were recommended by  CalTIP, to disable the seats -- and fast. 

Muni isn't a member of CalTIP, but it followed suit all the same. Muni wrote last month that setting the seats upright is all about the safety:

You've probably noticed that on some of our buses, the first row of forward-facing seats are secured in their flipped-up position, with decals explaining they have been taken out of service for safety reasons.  These seats are not broken. They have been removed from use for your safety.

So when will the seats be fixed? They won't, Muni said. The seating issue will end when the fleet is replaced in four to five years. Until then, enjoy the extra standing room. Or don't.

Update 5/29: Paul Rose, a spokesperson for Muni, offered in an email last night, somewhat cryptically: "The solution will be on place in buses by June 16th. New buses are not affected."

upright muni seats

Comments

Is this just another one of those wonderfully ironic stories of ADA compliance leading to quadripeligia in public infrastructure users?
--or just crappier acommodations?

What *is* "four times the average CalTIP loss rate"?

What is the relative likelihood of being injured as a standee in the space "vacated" by the flipped-up seat?

What does "bus scheduled to be replaced in the near future" mean to the MUNI guys when they read "Members may want to consider retro-fitting this seating area [with grippier covering] if the bus is not scheduled to be replaced in the near future"? Five years is "near future"?

I have so many questions, but one thing I think I have the answer for is the question as to whether the person or persons who make these decisions posses the acuity to perform their jobs commensurate to their pay and benefits.

Posted by Guest on May. 28, 2014 @ 9:47 pm

(the above was posted by me)

...And why doesn't MUNI apply some screw some strips of hard rubber across the smooth seats and call that the "best practice"? (I already answered that one.)

How about putting up an advisory note... but with punctuation and subject verb sentence structure:

"Please hold on. Sudden stops are sometimes necessary."

The deep irony that you need to be in a wheelchair with a freaking a doctor's note to be deemed worthy of consideration. Those who silently bear the pain of their tired legs and bad knees can just get screwed.

Oh yeah:
What does this mean:

"...noting that many of its buses have been built with similar seating configurations. GILLIG is unaware of any serious injury incidents due to this configuration on GILLIG buses but is conducting further risk assessment and may prepare additional information for customers."

Does it mean that the situation might benefit from a bit more intelligent analysis than it has been given?

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 28, 2014 @ 10:08 pm

MUNI lacks the intellectual capital needed for get labels stuck on properly.

Controlled flight into terrain.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 28, 2014 @ 10:13 pm

I guess I'm both sleepy and adjitated at the same time--which is a bad combination for writing.

Nothing ticks me off like imagining how glib MUNI decision-makers have probably *never* stood while looking longingly at occupied seats after a hard day's work.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 28, 2014 @ 10:33 pm

Such a load of shit! Thanks for making Muni even worse.

Posted by Guest on May. 28, 2014 @ 10:46 pm

Great so now you have people sitting haphazardly on these seats and that's not a lawsuit waiting to happen? Also, if you are sitting anywhere else on the bus and it stops suddenly you won't get hurt? Stupid.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2014 @ 3:36 pm

Yes, people are stupid.

Posted by guest on Jul. 23, 2014 @ 9:32 am

(whatever that is)

"Buses with padded fabric seat bottoms may have more slip resistance than smooth fiberglass or metal seats. These may provide some additional safety but will not eliminate the issue completely."

How about fixing the hinged seats so they do not tilt downward? Anybody who has used these seats knows what I'm referring to--I just didn't think of it last night.

And how about passing any costs of lawsuits on to the bus manufacturer for making a faulty product? I'll wager that GILLIG buses without a record of payouts don't suffer from this problem though they have the same basic seat layout.

On the other hand, perhaps there is a money-making opportunity here for someone:

"Consideration should be given to a Q-Pod retrofit for both wheelchair stations. This will eliminate the seating problem, as well as adding a more effective and efficient wheelchair securement station.
Ensure all future bus procurements include a barrier in front of the first front-facing seats. Q-Pod stations would afford this arrangement."

"Q-Pod"? That sounds proprietary, doesn't it? Is it a new way to replace seating with expensive proprietary ADA-compliance stuff to facilitate the use of the para-ambulatory analog of SUV's on buses? Q'Pod eliminates the "seating problem" by eliminating one of the four seats!

And of course we'll have to wait five years before taking one. Until then, remain standing.

http://www.qstraint.com/en_na/products/transit-solutions/qpod

http://www.qstraint.com/components/com_qstraint/playvideo.php?title=Q%27...

ps--Q-pod eli

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 29, 2014 @ 6:42 am

and the three seats sideways-facing seats (shown in the above video) look to be about two inches too high for comfortable use; and rather than having any vertical bars for passengers to stablize themselves with, they seem to be relying a fabric covering for slip resistance which has properly been deemed impractical in the big 'ol city.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 29, 2014 @ 7:05 am
Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2014 @ 7:06 am

I wish he would, since he's full of shit. Maybe he should shut up and take Uber if he doesn't have the constitution for public transportation.

Posted by guest on May. 29, 2014 @ 9:54 am

Can you idiot trolls refrain from ad hominem personal attacks when you can't refute any argument?

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2014 @ 4:12 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2014 @ 5:16 pm

But you didn't refute anything. You just launched lame personal insults. Case closed.

Posted by Guest on May. 30, 2014 @ 11:46 am
Posted by Guest on May. 30, 2014 @ 12:57 pm

More importantly, with the seat permanently upright, how will the human feces be collected and disposed of?

Posted by Chromefields on May. 29, 2014 @ 7:08 am

The number 14 is the most fecal route I hear.

Posted by Guest on May. 29, 2014 @ 7:22 am

I'll see your 14 and raise you the 38 Geary, guest.

Posted by Chromefields on May. 29, 2014 @ 8:37 am

Now that I got around to following the above link to Muni's own report on this change and saw the photo which shows an overview of the up-turned seats, I see that when you leave the seats locked in the up position, there *isn't* more room for standing and baggage, etc., as the CalTIP report suggests. That is because the wheelchair restrainment system is smack dab in the middle of the floor!

Is there any chance--any fucking chance at all--that someone is going to trip over these obstructions and end up costing MUNI far more money than any theoretical settlement from the "problem" this is supposed to correct?

My word! MUNI is truly *awesome.* Rather than simply fix the seats by making them lay horizontal--or better yet, tilted back slightly; rather than perhaps affixing some grippy rubber strips to them, we have this *magnificent* display of Muni's managerial malignancy.

What's the legal status on forcing city employees to ride Muni? I seem to remember it was shot down in the courts, though I may be misremembering. I always thought it should in any case be possible to make them ride on city time and it would pay off for riders anyhow.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 29, 2014 @ 11:40 am

I love sitting on grippy rubber strips! So comfie. Don't know how they'd test to see if they'd work. Believe it or not, it appears Muni did consider some of the drawbacks before they disabled the seats. Thanks for sharing your bitter, miserable attitude with the rest of us.

https://www.sfmta.com/news/notices/changes-first-row-forward-facing-seats

Posted by guest on May. 29, 2014 @ 12:16 pm

Next to an ankle-breaking trip hazard?

That means you are *definitely* Muni management material. Thank goodness for Muni managers that they never ride the bus except in small collegial groups.

And never mind the fact that you obviously sidestepped my point about the seats sloping downward which is obviously a big part of the problem; a fact that neither Muni nor "CalTIP" seemed interested in perceptualizing.

Are you going to enjoy sitting on the high three-wide side-facing seats* of the "Q'Pod" units with your legs dangling toward the floor and nothing to hang on to? You can always brace yourself against your neighbor, right? And don't pay any mind to the condition of the indoor-outdoor carpet upholstery.

*due to arrive in 2019

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 29, 2014 @ 1:19 pm

The seats do not "slope downward" unless your fat ass is putting abnormal pressure on them. Priority seating is not designed to slope downward. In any case, I have a few decades to go before I need to worry about sitting in the senior/disabled seats.

Posted by guest on May. 29, 2014 @ 3:21 pm

to slope downward. Only a complete idiot, a Muni manager trying to explain their stupidity, or a troll who never rides Muni would try to claim otherwise.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 29, 2014 @ 6:31 pm

Says the troll.

Posted by guest on Jul. 23, 2014 @ 10:07 am

Read my story and be prepared to be FLOORED by the HYPOCRISY and LIES of Senator Feinstein and PRESIDENT OBAMA who have ignored my CASE and CONSPIRED to have it dismissed. My story is available on YOUTUBE.

Posted by Jason Grant Garza on May. 29, 2014 @ 2:06 pm

Please go away!

Posted by ATLbred on May. 30, 2014 @ 12:16 am

I will go AWAY when I receive JUSTICE. I have been DETAINED in MY OWN PRIVATE GUANTANAMO. Read all about MY STORY and watch my VIDEOS on YOUTUBE. Be prepared to TASTE THE HYPOCRISY and SMELL the LIES!!

Posted by Jason Grant Garza on May. 30, 2014 @ 10:29 pm

Here's a .pdf of the letter from GILLIG to their customers along with the original New Flyer letter wherein the latter company advised the forward facing flip-up seats lacking a front barrier be left in the locked-up position even when a disabled passenger is not present in the area.

New Flyer expressly denied that their seats were defective--who could have guessed!--and of course Muni managers decided to just take away two seats to passengers rather than examine the New Flyer claims closely.

The fact is that these foward facing flip-up seats often hang down toward the front and that is without a doubt a contributing reason for any accidents involving people slipping off of them during collisions and short stops.

And, by-the-way, I find it difficult to believe that being thrown of your seat is likely to result in liability to the transit agency four times greater than liability which stems from being thrown down from a standing position.

While it is offered that standees are more likely to be holding-on, no proof is given that the particular passengers attempting to use the small amount of additional floor space which comes from having the seats permanently locked up will have anything adequate to grab hold of; and this doesn't even take into account the danger from the trip-hazard of the exposed wheelchair restrainment device.

The CalTIP letter pushing the "Q-Pod" wheelchair restrainment seating is most suspicious to me. Same for the incompetent claim that this new style seat, which replaces four seats with three, provides a "barrier in front of forward facing seats"

Actually, the Q-Pod has three *sideways* facing seats, and these seats appear to be too far off the ground for an average sized passenger to brace themselves with their feet. The "forward barrier" for the rearmost two seated passengers in the event of a collision would appear to be the passenger in the forward-most seat who would be trapped between them and whatever is forward of their seat.

www.wstip.org/Radio%20Spots/Passenger%20Safety%20Letter.pdf

ps--might there be some pecuniary interest involved between New Flyer and Q-Pod and Muni management? Perhaps I'm overly suspicious and Muni managment's decision is simply due to incompetence--along, perhaps, with a smattering of the schadenfreude they experience when they consider the lowly plebes who ride their buses.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 30, 2014 @ 9:17 am

"The solution will be on place." Great news coming from the Muni spokeman! Well, I can relate... though, of course, I don't draw a salary as a spokesman for Muni...

I do think that the private consultant who manages the California Transit Indemnity Pool might have done better by questioning New Flyer on their bulletin and the nature of the seating risk rather than encouraging Muni to vandalize their own buses and embark on an another costly round of purchases of foreign-made and imperfect ADA compliance seating.

www.bickmore.net/pdf/overview/overview_RMC.pdf

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 31, 2014 @ 9:05 am

This is so ridiculous. The bus I ride is FILLED TO CAPACITY! People have to be physically shoved in like the Tokyo subway.

To think that they're worried about 2 seats which might be slippery on a bus where people are literally hanging on for dear life is complete insanity...

Posted by Guest on Jun. 02, 2014 @ 5:21 am

So it's safer to have the metal lock bars poking up risking injury and disability to *all* passengers instead? Yeaaaaa..ummmm...suuuure...that makes sense.. (NOT).

Posted by Guest on Jun. 02, 2014 @ 4:27 pm

If Muni bus drivers had to stand while driving maybe they would drive more smoothly and passengers who are standing would have an easier time remaining upright.

Posted by Larry-bob on Jun. 03, 2014 @ 10:24 am

Muni management should instill in drivers a sense of obligation and service. That wasn't evident in this interchange I had with a station agent* years ago:

l: [At Civic Center metro fare gates late one evening, wondering whether I should descend onto platform or return to Market street to await a Night Owl bus] "Has the last outbound N-Judah run yet?"

Agent: "Why should I know?"

l: "Well, because you work for Muni?"

Agent: [sneering] "Well, you *ride* Muni!"

Anyhow, the old Milan car operators stand... and I've heard drivers of the cushy old PCC cars grouse about how bad the brakes are... I think you have a point.

*ps--I'm pretty sure station agents *are* management.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jun. 03, 2014 @ 12:28 pm

Which makes me wonder why anyone would want the city to run electric and gas power.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 03, 2014 @ 12:33 pm

that killed those people. Government agencies are as good or bad as the people who are put in control of them. Within a functional democractic control system, government agencies offer the greatest prospect for service and excellence.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jun. 03, 2014 @ 1:40 pm

the city ran an inherently risky business like gas delivery?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 03, 2014 @ 2:03 pm

except you and your fellow trolls. You trolls keep asking the same lame questions over and over again. You don't have the facts on your side, but that doesn't stop your from pretending otherwise.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jun. 03, 2014 @ 3:02 pm

Nor any reason to believe that the folks who run muni would be safer

Posted by Guest on Jun. 03, 2014 @ 3:52 pm
Posted by Richmondman on Jun. 03, 2014 @ 3:06 pm

If station agents are union, it has no bearing on the point I was making anyway. Just forget I mentioned it.

My point is that Muni is run in failure mode *by* *intent* and any concern you have with the performance of Muni is the responsibility of management.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jun. 03, 2014 @ 3:39 pm

Exactly. When we talk about "management" at SFMTA, it's all union. The mid-level management and the drivers are all in the same union (which is a mess in and of itself, but that's for another day). I believe that only Ed Reiskin and other high-level political appointees are not unionized. The "supervisors" are in TWU Local 200 and the drivers and shitbird fare inspectors are in TWU Local 250.

The big problem with Muni is not that its supervisors are unionized. The big problem with Muni is that its supervisors are morons.

Posted by BW on Jun. 12, 2014 @ 10:44 pm

Not true.

Posted by guest on Jul. 23, 2014 @ 10:08 am

It's run for the workers and not for the riders

Posted by Guest on Jul. 23, 2014 @ 10:22 am

Wait, so are they saying, that it is SAFER to have DISABLED PEOPLE STANDING IN THE AISLE THAN SITTING ON THIS SEAT?

Seriously???? Remove 2 disabled seats and that is 2 disabled people who now have to STAND when the bus is crowded.

This is the STUPIDEST thing ever and there will be MORE LAWSUITS from people falling over who should not be standing in a moving vehicle in the first place.

And by the way - WHY IS IT SAFE TO HAVE PEOPLE STANDING IN A MOVING VEHICLE???? ON THE ROADS not a train where SUDDEN STOPS HAPPEN FREQUENTLY?

And when have you EVER seen a child in a seatbelt on Muni? they don't even HAVE seatblets! But in a car, you can get arrested ify our child is not in a seatbelt but Muni, no problem, no seatbelts, but we cannot have DISABLED PEOPLE who mihght have BACK INJURIES that make sitting SIDEWAYS impossible, have a plce to sit. Oh no.

Because that would involve logic and common sense.

Idiots.

Posted by Guest94109 on Jun. 03, 2014 @ 11:20 pm

that is not what they are saying. they are not seats for the disabled. they are areas with seats that raise for the disabled to put their wheelchairs. they don't expect them to stand there.

Posted by irwin on Jun. 04, 2014 @ 3:55 pm

Disabled people will not stand there, but others will when the bus is packed. I did a double-take the first time I saw one of those bars sticking out several inches from the bottom of the seats. That shit is sharp and WILL slice someone up soon. Typical Muni, "enhancing" safety for passengers by making things immediately unsafe.

Posted by BW on Jun. 12, 2014 @ 10:49 pm

Wait, so are they saying, that it is SAFER to have DISABLED PEOPLE STANDING IN THE AISLE THAN SITTING ON THIS SEAT?

Seriously???? Remove 2 disabled seats and that is 2 disabled people who now have to STAND when the bus is crowded.

This is the STUPIDEST thing ever and there will be MORE LAWSUITS from people falling over who should not be standing in a moving vehicle in the first place.

And by the way - WHY IS IT SAFE TO HAVE PEOPLE STANDING IN A MOVING VEHICLE???? ON THE ROADS not a train where SUDDEN STOPS HAPPEN FREQUENTLY?

And when have you EVER seen a child in a seatbelt on Muni? they don't even HAVE seatblets! But in a car, you can get arrested ify our child is not in a seatbelt but Muni, no problem, no seatbelts, but we cannot have DISABLED PEOPLE who mihght have BACK INJURIES that make sitting SIDEWAYS impossible, have a plce to sit. Oh no.

Because that would involve logic and common sense.

Idiots.

Posted by Guest94109 on Jun. 03, 2014 @ 11:21 pm

I ride the Hayes 21. Just got home. It makes my blood boil to see these seats disabled for what, a potential lawsuit? Has Muni management ever ridden a bus after a long day at work? No, of course not. They have their city-leased air conditioned cars. Who is the genius who implemented this stupid experiment? I called 511 tonight and spoke to a very nice cust svc person. He said this is an experiment. He wasn't sure how long it will last. I would say, ditch the cursed experiment!!!!! Muni patrons want seats except when they have to be vacated for disabled patrons.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 06, 2014 @ 6:37 pm

511 is MTC, not MTA. I call bullshit on your story.

Posted by guest on Jul. 23, 2014 @ 10:10 am
Posted by Guest on Jul. 23, 2014 @ 10:23 am

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Related articles

  • Free Sunday meter plan challenged with environmental review

  • Tech in Transit

    Will the gadget-obsessed disruptions of the future abandon the congested streets of San Francisco?

  • Politics over policy

    Paid Sunday parking meters benefit drivers, businesses, and Muni riders. So why did the plan get killed?

  • Also from this author

  • Cash backwards

    Ten things San Francisco should fund -- and 10 things it shouldn't -- to create a fair, equitable, and forward-thinking city budget

  • Student protesters file claim against City College and SF citing injuries, defamation

  • The strange, unique power of San Francisco mayors