Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART)

Extraordinary Circumstances Only for Cell Phone Interruptions

BART's new cell phone policy sets a standard of "extraordinary circumstances" when cell phone service could be temporarily interrupted. The policy, adopted by the BART board of directors by unanimous vote states a temporary interruption could be implemented only when BART "...determines that there is strong evidence of imminent unlawful activity that threatens the safety of district passengers, employees and other members of the public..."

The policy cites examples such as "...evidence of use of cell phones as instrumentalities in explosives; to facilitate violent criminal activity or endanger district passengers..."

"The intent of this cell phone interruption policy is to balance free speech rights with legitimate public safety concerns," BART Board President Bob Franklin said. "This policy, with input from the Federal Communications Commission and the American Civil Liberties Union, will serve as a pioneering model for our nation, as a reference to other public agencies that will inevitably face similar dilemmas in the future. "

The adopted policy was revised to reflect concerns raised by board members when an earlier draft version was considered by the board at its Nov. 3, 2011 meeting. The revised policy requires the establishment of an operational procedure approved by the general manager rather than granting the decision solely to the G.M. It also requires BART to promptly report cell phone service interruptions to "first responders and the board of directors."

The policy takes effect immediately.

The complete text of the policy is available for viewing at www.bart.gov.

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