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Rail News: Safety

San Francisco debuts plan to bolster safety for cable-car operators

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is joining forces with the city's police department and one of its transit agencies to help keep cable car operators safe while on duty.

The news follows severe collisions that left two operators hospitalized, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) officials said in a press release.

The plan calls for San Francisco police to increase enforcement on cable car lines to ensure that motorists don't pass cable cars in a boarding zone.

A sign from SFMTA's new public service campaign for cable car safety.
Photo: San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
In addition, the SFMTA will evaluate all signage within cable cars, along the route and at key areas to determine any safety changes, agency officials said.

Each cable car will also be equipped with a mobile stop sign that operators can hold while exiting the vehicle.

"Keeping our city’s cable car conductors and operators safe while they are doing their job is our highest priority," Lee said. "Our historic cable car system is more than a century old, and our staff sometimes has to step into harm’s way to keep others safe. We are taking immediate action to keep staff safe by reminding motorists to stop behind cable cars, stop while operators are entering or exiting, and being aware of their surroundings.”

San Francisco has also committed to launching a public awareness campaign and developing a cable car collision reduction program, SFMTA officials said.

The city's latest efforts at cable car safety are the result of discussions between Lee, the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A, the San Francisco Police Department and the SFMTA.

California law requires that drivers stop at the rear of the nearest running board or door behind trolleys or streetcars, SFMTA officials said, adding that motorists must remain stopped for the duration of passenger boarding and exiting.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/12/2015