Crafty pole design unlocks Muni’s hazardous seats

Hundreds of Muni buses have gotten back their front-row, forward-facing seats that were previously locked because of a safety warning issued in 2014 by bus manufacturers.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said at the time that riders who sat in those seats had nothing to hold to in case the bus made a sudden stop. Sticker decals on the seats explained to riders why the transit agency locked the seats. The buses affected were ones that were in service prior to 2015.

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In 2016, transit officials came up with a fix by adding an additional pole to the seats called a “rotational stanchion” that will allow riders to have something to hold on to while sitting or standing.

Officials added the stanchions to some buses in early 2016 to test them out. Now, 350 buses have the new pole with the seats unlocked, the transit agency said.

The pole can also be rotated out to provide more room for riders with a stroller or for wheelchair users.

About 270 more buses still need to get outfitted with the rotating pole. The transit agency said it expects to complete the project by the end of the fall.

Buses that will retire soon will not get the new poles and therefore seats in those buses will remain locked.

The transit agency has added a guide on its website on how to rotate the pole out and unlock the seat in case anyone gets confused.

Newly purchased buses from New Flyer of America Inc. were not affected.