"According to a statement sent this afternoon, BART did not, as some feared, employ the type of cell phone blocking and jamming equipment expressly forbidden by the FCC.
Instead, they say "BART asked wireless providers to temporarily interrupt service at select BART stations as one of many tactics to ensure the safety of everyone on the platform."
"That means BART did not break that specific FCC rule" says Kevin Bankston, Senior Staff Attorney of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, "but I would hope -- and expect -- that the FCC would have some serious questions for BART. It is in their area of interest." (A spokesperson for the FCC said that they could not offer comment for attribution at this time.)
Bankston's not the only official nonplussed by BART's move. According to Cruise, the VP for the Northern California branch of APCO (the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials - International), a professional organization dedicated to the enhancement of public safety communications, "No agency has the ability to decide who can communicate and who can't. The FCC's rules are really clear on that."
"The California Dept of Corrections doesn't have he ability to restrict cell phone signals for prisoners, so I don't see how BART can for its passengers."
"The carriers' apparent unquestioning willingness to comply with this request, based only on rumors, is very troublesome," says Bankston. "I would expect and hope that the carriers would demand more (from BART) that a rumor before cutting off the ability to communication of thousands."
According to BART Deputy Chief Benson H. Fairow, BART was within their rights to cut off service.
"You have to remember that cell phone reception doesn't naturally make it underground" he said. "This is a service we provide to our customers."
Well, fine and good. But, once you start providing service, people EXPECT continued service. People have dates, appointments, and want to time their next connections. Rather than CUT OFF cell service, how about on such days:
-- designate trains that WILL bypass Embarcadero
-- designate trains that WILL bypass Montgomery
-- designate trains that WILL bypass Powell
-- designate trains that WILL bypass Civic Center
This could reduce the number of people disgorged. Also, BART could re-encode tickets to refuse entry to those not boarding a specifi train. Going to get off at Embarcadero? Re-enter your ticket to be specially encoded, then wait your turn to enter the fair gate area. Trains will run with a larger interval, allowing people time to get to the platform.
Do something similar for eastbound trains. Corral or marshall or reverse the trains near or at South Hayward and at Colma Stations.
Next to last chance to get it right before leaving the East Bay: At Lake Merrit or at Oakland 12th Street
LAST chance to get it right before leaving the East Bay: Oakland West/West Oakland
Next to last chance before leaving the SF stations: Somewhere one station before Embarcadero or other than the train's skip-station.
To correct your overshoot: reverse at the station and head back, or
Flush the empty train, and have it skip a station and this will force agitators to spread to a wider area, losing their movement's appeal. Well, ideally, since most people in SF won't likely engage in the ruckus. Most of the agitator tend to be from out of town, and not terribly large a number. To disrupt service for fewer than 100 agitators is kind of lame, brute, and unimaginative.