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SFMTA to bill driver for $55k after switch damage

San Francisco’s transit agency is seeking reimbursement from a motorist’s insurance company after the person reportedly drove into a Muni tunnel at Church Street and Duboce Avenue around 12:30 a.m. on Feb. 27.

The motorist damaged a track switch that allows the J-Church and N-Judah to automatically switch over to the inbound rail tracks inside the subway, according to officials with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

Paul Rose, a spokesperson for the SFMTA, said the transit is seeking to claim $55,000 from the insurance company, which not only includes damages from the track switch, but also from the cost of running bus shuttles, the cost of overtime and having staff out in the field to direct Muni passengers during the subway delays.

While crews did make repairs early in the morning, the track switch failed in the late afternoon. The SFMTA was unable to make the repairs in time for the evening commute and sent bus shuttles out to serve the J-Church and N-Judah passengers.

The following morning, the track switch failed again and the transit agency implemented the same bus shuttle plan while crews worked to fix the switch.

Officials from the SFMTA plan to refer the case over to the City Attorney’s Office to seek reimbursement from the insurance company.

John Coté, a spokesperson for the City Attorney’s Office, explained that the office would send a letter to the motorist and their insurance company, seeking payment for the damage caused by the motorist.

One rare case went through litigation where The City pocketed $50,000 from the insurance company for an incident that occurred on Jan. 19, 2012 when a vehicle entered the Duboce tunnel and caused damage inside.

Coté said the City Attorney’s office is serious about protecting the public’s investment including The City’s transportation system:

“If someone damages public property, we do everything that makes sense to get compensation.”

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