Watch: N-Judah Riders Lift Car Out of the Way of Their Train

Maybe Muni ought to start paying riders for getting cars off metro tracks.

Last night, the N-Judah train I was on with my fiancee (whom I happened to meet on the N) was approaching the east portal of the Sunset Tunnel when my fellow riders and I spotted a set of tail lights up ahead. We pretty much all knew what it meant — another driver tried to enter the transit tunnel.

We all got out to find the woman’s car lodged on the edge of the concrete. Pretty soon, another train showed up headed in the other direction, and she was blocking Muni’s busiest line, both inbound and outbound. Fortunately, some good Samaritans from our train decided not to wait for a tow truck — seven men lifted the front of the car back on top of the ledge, allowing the woman to drive the car away (I don’t know if she got a citation).

Despite all of the signage and even raised bumps signaling “Do Not Enter,” drivers — especially drunk drivers — try to enter Muni tunnels surprisingly often. Haighteration posted a photo of folks lifting a drunk driver’s car at this same spot last June. I didn’t exactly examine the driver in my case, but she appeared sober as far as I could tell (she simply apologized repeatedly).

This is also not the first time I’ve personally encountered N-Judah riders moving a stuck car out of the way of their train. In 2012, I saw a group push a pickup truck off the tracks on Irving Street — the driver’s girlfriend apparently threw his keys out, and he had gone to try to find them.

There’s got to be a better way. Does the Muni-riding experience really have to include occasionally moving private automobiles out of the way with your bare hands?

  • Upright Biker

    “Does the Muni-riding experience really have to include occasionally moving private automobiles out of the way with your bare hands?”

    You know, as an experiential slice, you have to admit that things like this kind of make life _life_.

    Now, were it to happen every day…well, that’s a different story!

  • njudah

    the car driver needs to be cited and fined for her nonsense.

  • vcs

    I live nearby that tunnel and clueless people are constantly driving down the train tracks, but most of them figure it out before getting stuck. Just this week, there was a big delivery truck backing out of there. The N train just patiently waited for them. Tells you how much the average driver is paying attention.

  • Andareed

    Everyone is blaming the drivers, but I have to question whether something is wrong with the design if drivers manage to attempt to drive into the tunnel so frequently.

  • Ian Turner

    The “Better Way” would be retractable bollards.

  • phoca2004

    The fact that in the order of hundreds if not a thousand or more cars properly navigate that intersection daily should be enough to inform one that these are edge of the bell curve drivers – who probably would do with some more training driving-wise before they are allowed to continue.

  • Andareed

    I’m not saying the drivers aren’t poor drivers, but it seems interesting that different bad drivers keep doing the same thing.

  • p_chazz

    Except they would probably fail and create the problem they were designed to prevent.

  • gneiss

    This stretch of Church Street has no business being a through way for private cars in the first place. The best solution would be to close off private car access between 14th and Dolores and allow only Muni, buses, taxis, and commercial deliveries. Given how disruptive these kinds of events are to three important transit lines that carry thousands of people a day, it makes no sense for the city to continue to let people in their cars drive though here.

  • Rod_North

    gneiss, closing Church between 14th and Dolores doesn’t make any sense, as Dolores is parallel to Church and therefore doesn’t intersect it. I assume you meant closing Church between 14th and Duboce.

    Off the top of my head, there are two problems with that. First, one of the two entrances into Safeways is off Church and, from what I’ve seen, it’s the one the delivery trucks use as well. So you’re asking trucks to turn left off Market to enter the parking lot. I don’t think that can work.

    Second, the old Blockbusters on Church has a large car park out back which is only accessible from that block of Church. I believe that property is vacant and for lease right now. The owner of that commercial space would probably demand a lot of compensation.

    You may be lucky and there are no private garages on that block. But even so, certain local routes would be quite tricky to navigate without using Church as it is the main north-south drag around there given that Fillmore dead-ends. And we’ve already made a block of Duboce vehicle-unfriendly there.

  • Completely agree. Something is wrong with the design if it keeps happening

  • GC

    That’s right. It would have to be something effective for drunks and morons.

  • Bruce Halperin

    Can’t they put in gates/bollards that only lower when a train comes along?

  • murphstahoe

    My problem with that is that involves adding infrastructure that costs transit riders and delays the trains because the motorists can’t be trusted to not drive into train tunnels.

    Motorists can’t make that turn? Don’t let them on Duboce.

  • Forthright

    That might not work for people who have driveways on that section of the street, though

  • murphstahoe

    “no business being a through way”

    There is this interesting thing called a “cul-de-sac”

  • Forthright

    “The best solution would be to close off private car access between 14th
    and Dolores and allow only Muni, buses, taxis, and commercial
    You have advocated for ZERO private cars on that stretch, cul-de-sac or not

  • I’m not saying this would work, but it’s an interesting development: a water curtain with STOP projected on it.

  • Agreed, the water barrier idea is awesome, needs to come to the Bay Area.


Forget Parking: N-Judah Detours Show How Much Merchants Rely on Muni

When the SF Municipal Transportation Agency proposed widening sidewalks at two stops on Carl Street in Cole Valley to improve conditions for nearly 6,000 daily passenger boardings on Muni’s N-Judah line, some vociferous merchants and residents complained about the loss of nine car parking spaces it would require. But with ongoing project construction detouring the […]