Tuesday, July 26, 2011

State commission says Angels Flight is safe

The state commission that oversees transportation safety told the City Council today that Angels Flight in downtown is safe to ride.

The California Public Utilities Commission closed Angels Flight for nearly a month in June after inspectors found that flanges on the wheels, which hold the cars on the track had been worn down to an unsafe thickness on three of eight wheels on one car.

The funicular that takes riders up Bunker Hill for 25 cents reopened July 5 after the operator installed all new wheels made of a harder steel.

The movement of the two cars -- Olivet and Sinai -- through a transition two-thirds up the hill was not behaving as originally designed, Richard Clark, CPUC's Director of Consumer Protection and Safety, told the council.

"We're still trying to determine what the actual root cause of the problem is," Clark said, but added that the Angels Flight Railway has taken the appropriate steps to replace the wheels and monitor the railway, including instituting three maintenance audits per year beginning this fall.

Angels Flight, billed as the "shortest railway in the world," carries passengers on one-minute trips up and down Bunker Hill for 25 cents. The railway now operates between 6:45 a.m. and 10 p.m.


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