On Monday, SF Weekly broke the story that the bus which last week crushed 78-year-old cyclist Cheng Jin Lai was missing a key piece of safety equipment specifically designed to keep buses from crushing people.
Bus No. 8410 was not equipped with an "S-1 Gard," a hunk of polyurethane mounted in front of a bus' back-right tire to deflect people, animals, and objects from the wheel.
This paper's article triggered Muni director Ed Reiskin's call for a fleetwide bus inspection.
Of 801 buses, Muni claims 14 were rolling around the city without S-1 Gards.
While this was a violation of Muni's internal policy, there were no written prohibitions against taking a bus into service sans an S-1 Gard. That changed today via a fiery Muni memo:
"We need to verify at every 1k, 1.5k, and 6k that each bus has an s1 guard, we have stock, we can order more so chk inventory (sic) and refill the shelf," reads the e-mail to Muni brass penned at 6 this morning by Neal Popp, Muni's chief mechanical officer.
"A bus will be grounded and is OOS [out of service] until it has a guard, don't run out [of the part] but if you do the bus is on hold and not to be in revenue service until repaired, NO exceptions, NONE. Safety is paramount, expect and insist on it."
That memo conforms to "the rules of maintenance" espoused by Muni's longtime former maintenance controller Virgil Dennis: "If you put something of a safety nature on a bus, you have to maintain it. If it's not on all the buses, what good does that do? Now it's a crapshoot whether you'll go under the wheel."
And, despite alarmingly stacked odds, it's a crapshoot that Cheng Jin Lai lost.