BART Cuts Passengers' Cell Service, Explains

Cell service cut at Civic Center Station during rush hour Thursday.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC Bay Area

    BART protests expected to disrupt service Thursday afternoon failed to materialize, but the agency said that riders should be vigilant in coming weeks while the threat of protests lingers.

    "Today [ Thursday ] we heard rumors there might be protests, and there might be protests tomorrow [ Friday ]," agency spokesman Linton Johnson said at a media briefing Thursday night inside the Powell Street station. "We don't know."

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    BART had put a warning on its website today for passengers to be "advised that protesters may attempt to disrupt train service during August commute periods beginning as early as Thursday, August 11, 2011, in downtown San Francisco BART stations."

    On July 11, protesters disrupted rush-hour commutes in response to the killing of Charles Hill by BART police a week earlier. BART police arrested a number of protesters that night and temporarily closed San Francisco's Civic Center BART station, among others.

    Thursday afternoon, BART police were standing, with about a dozen officers in riot gear and a dozen safety officers in green vests present on the train platform at Civic Center Station, where protesters were expected to gather around 4:30 p.m.

    Lt. Andy Alkire said that no arrests were made and that it helped to have a uniformed police presence.

    "I don't believe it was a hoax," Alkire said. "We had pretty good intelligence that it was going to happen."

    As an added precaution, the agency shut off cellphone service on the station's platform. While Alkire said the tactic was an unusual measure, he said it was "a great tool to utilize for this specific purpose" given that the agency was expecting a potentially volatile situation.

    "This group seems to want to challenge BART, challenge the police department," Alkire said.

    BART was not the only transit agency that took precautions Thursday. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency also announced that it had shut down regular cable car service on the Powell Street portion of the Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde lines at 3:30 p.m.

    Shuttle buses provided service along the route until normal Muni service resumed at 6:30 p.m.

    Johnson encourages BART passengers to remain aware of their surroundings as they commute over the next month.

    "Report unsafe behavior, do not confront protesters," Johnson said. "Stay out of harm's way."

    Passengers can report suspicious or unsafe behavior by calling (510) 464-7000 or by locating an intercom.