BART Officials May Adopt New Cellphone Policy

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS/AP) – Leaders of the San Francisco Bay Area’s transit agency said they may adopt a policy allowing police to turn off wireless communications on train platforms but only in extreme public safety circumstances.

The board of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system held a special public meeting Wednesday to discuss the issue.

BART ignited a global debate over free speech when it cut cellphone and wireless data service in San Francisco subway stations earlier this month to disrupt plans for a protest.

KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:

BART Board President Bob Franklin said he agreed with the decision to shutoff cellphone service, but it’s not likely to happen in the future.

“Moving forward, we’ll have a policy that this wouldn’t qualify for in the future,” Franklin said. “I think it would be in more extreme cases, like detonating a bomb, where a lot of people’s lives are at risk.”

Dozens of people attended Wednesday’s meeting to speak against the wireless shut-off.

Krystof, a member of No Justice, No BART, said the protests will continue until the transit agency disbands its police department.

“We have a problem in the Bay Area and the problem is that BART runs its own police force and does a bad job of it,” Krystof said.

Some also called for the firing of its chief spokesman.

The board rejected those demands, and it didn’t take any formal votes. But members said they expect to adopt a formal policy within a month.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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