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California Public Utilities Commission
505 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE PRESS RELEASE Media Contact: Terrie Prosper, 415.703.1366, news@cpuc.ca.gov Docket #: I.11-02-017


SAN FRANCISCO, February 24, 2011 - The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today began penalty considerations based on CPUC staff allegations of pervasive safety concerns regarding the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's (SFMTA or Muni) light rail system. This action was taken after CPUC safety inspectors found numerous safety violations on Muni's light rail system in San Francisco. In their report to the CPUC, the inspectors have alleged that SFMTA has been chronically unresponsive to alleged violations and other findings.

The CPUC has exclusive jurisdiction over rail transit safety in California. The CPUC's Consumer Protection and Safety Division (CPSD) staff conduct regular inspections of SFMTA's light rail system. CPUC staff have become increasingly concerned with public safety issues throughout the Muni system. In particular, CPUC staff are concerned with the material condition of the light rail system, SFMTA's failure to initiate or complete Corrective Action Plans to address known problems, late reporting or non-reporting of incidents, and failure to respond to CPUC staff inspection findings. These preliminary findings, if proven, may violate state and federal regulations, violate SFMTA's own internal regulations, and raise serious safety concerns for the public as well as SFMTA employees.

Based on the CPUC staff findings, CPSD today asked the CPUC's Commissioners to vote to open a penalty consideration proceeding during which an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will hear testimony on safety concerns regarding the SFMTA light rail system. Based on the record that will be developed, the ALJ will prepare a Proposed Decision for consideration by the CPUC's Commissioners, which could include fines and penalties against SFMTA, if warranted.

"It is important to public safety and to SFMTA employees that we determine whether Muni is operating according to our regulations," said CPUC President Michael R. Peevey. "Our safety inspectors allege a number of deficiencies in Muni's operations and we must now determine whether SFMTA's behavior violates the law, and if so, whether fines and penalties are appropriate."

CPUC staff recommended that the CPUC open a penalty consideration phase into SFMTA because of the following allegations:

The CPUC ordered SFMTA to file a response within 30 days. A Pre-Hearing Conference before an ALJ will be set to establish a schedule for this proceeding, including the date of an evidentiary hearing. If CPUC staff allegations are proven, the CPUC may impose substantial fines or other penalties, as well as implement remedial action.

The order voted on today is available at http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PUBLISHED/FINAL_DECISION/131234.htm.

For more information on the CPUC, please visit www.cpuc.ca.gov.


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