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BART To Hear Public Comments On Cellphone Service Shutdown

OAKLAND (KCBS) – The Bay Area Rapid Transit board of directors was set to hold a special meeting Wednesday morning to discuss the transit agency's decision to shut down cellphone service at stations in an effort to thwart a planned protest.

The agency's decision has led to a string of protests over the last month, which has been a hindrance for many commuters in San Francisco.

The latest protest on Monday night temporarily shut down two San Francisco stations and resulted in about 40 people being arrested.

KCBS' Holly Quan Reports:

BART officials said they halted cellphone service at selected stations in San Francisco on August 11th because they had credible information that a protest would disrupt service.

The protest was expected to be one of a series of demonstrations over the shooting death of Charles Hill, a transient man, at the hands of a BART police officer at the Civic Center station in San Francisco the night of July 3.

KCBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier said the controversy has not only customers, but also some BART board members concerned.

"Some of them (BART board members) weren't happy and said we should have had a policy in place before this happened. But the flipside to that is that you can't have a policy for everything," Matier said.

KCBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier:

The public will be allowed to comment and the board is hoping to come up with some sort of resolution to help formulate a firm policy on when to shut off cellphone service in the future and also ways to avoid future planned protests over the matter.

>> CBS 5 Poll: Public Supports BART On Cellphone Shutdown Decision

BART Board President Bob Franklin said presentations at Wednesday's meeting are designed to give the public an idea of what goes into keeping trains running and riders safe.

"This is a beginning of the process. We have to hear form the public first of what they want, their ideas. And then we formulate a policy and vote on it," Franklin said. "But it would be foolish to put a policy out without hearing from the public."

The group "Anonymous," which has been behind the latest protests, posted a list of demands on its website on Tuesday. Among them was an apology from BART for turning off cell coverage and a promise not to do it again, disarming and retraining police officers and the reopening of the investigation into the fatal BART officer-involved shooting of a homeless man on the Civic Center station platform in early July.

The hearing was set to begin at 9 a.m. at the BART Board Room on the third floor of the Kaiser Center at 344 20th St. in Oakland.

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

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