That memo wasn't penned by Haley, incidentally, but Neal Popp — the agency's deputy director of bus maintenance. Muni spokesman Paul Rose claimed this wasn't unusual.

Perhaps it's also not unusual that Popp's memo was punched into a cellphone in text-message language at 6:06 a.m., when he was hundreds of miles from San Francisco.

In April 2010, attorney Scott Whitsitt ambled out of his office on Mission and Beale. He judiciously allowed a 14-Mission to pass him before stepping off the curb — right in front of another 14-Mission. Witnesses heard him shriek, "Oh God, no!"

Now you see it, now you don't: An "S-1 Gard" is missing from the bus that killed Chang Jin Lai.
Left: Photograph by Evan DuCharme. Right: KTVU Channel 2
Now you see it, now you don't: An "S-1 Gard" is missing from the bus that killed Chang Jin Lai.

And then he was gone.

His husband's resultant wrongful death suit against the city takes aim at the bus driver — and, Lord knows, she proved to be an ample target. Per the suit, she "mistook the brake pedal for the accelerator pedal." Also, she was "busy unwrapping a candy bar with both hands" in the moments before striking Whitsitt. A Muni source confirmed to your humble narrator that investigators even located the wrapper beneath the steering wheel.

Left unmentioned in this suit, however, was the mile-long record of problems ominously afflicting this bus prior to its lethal accident. Documents obtained by SF Weekly in 2012 reveal "Preventive Maintenance and Defects/Repair records 60 days prior to the incident date shows a history of 15+ defects to the Brake and Propulsion System." The coach was demonstrating "a pattern of vehicle malfunction as recently as two days before the incident."

But since the driver was such an easy legal target, none of this was ever seriously examined. We'll never know if the bus would even have stopped had the driver managed to find the correct pedal. Muni remains unchanged.

The cause of Lai's death, however, seems as unambiguous as it was needless. And yet powerful elements within Muni still battled to maintain the agency's ludicrous status quo.

It was deemed more expedient for Muni to cover its rear end than its rear wheels.

And, even after outside pressure shamed the agency into action, it still claims it violated no "regulatory" requirements. Its official position is that, in establishing a policy to install devices on the bus to prevent people from being crushed, it was doing everyone a favor.

S-1 Gards are a proactive device. But Muni remains a reactive agency.

The fleetwide inspection is complete. A policy has been crafted. We have, after all of this, arrived at the right place. But, just like a journey on a crosstown bus, it was lengthy, unnerving, and far from pleasant.

For Muni, perhaps, this is a natural process that is in harmony with its environment.

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Jason Grant Garza here ... WHAT? "The agency's response wasn't to protect the people of San Francisco. It was to protect itself." This comes as a SURPRISE to anyone ... type Jason Garza into youtube to see over 250 videos of different agencies use "RISK MANAGEMENT" tactics to obstruct investigations, not perform correctly, not be accountable, etc. This happens for example the Sheriff, SFPD, DPH OCC, MOD. HRC, the Police Commission, the Chief of Police, etc.  Watch the GAMES, INHUMANITY and LEARN they DO NOT CARE. Oh and how many fingers are the Sheriff and DPH pointing as the result of the DEAD woman at SF GENERAL ... watch learn.


whateveryousay topcommenter

Just more proof that we shouldn't ride bikes.


So a person has to die for fuckin Muni to fix there shit! WTF. What a shame!!!

Cynthia McGarvie
Cynthia McGarvie

Horrible organizational culture right there in plain sight.

Jessica Tovar
Jessica Tovar

i can't stand to read the rest of the article, wtf

Blake Ellis
Blake Ellis

Our fares keep rising, they keep failing.

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