Muni, BART heighten security in wake of Moscow blasts 

Bomb-sniffing dogs joined BART riders Monday as the transit agency stepped up security in the wake of a double suicide bombing on the Moscow subway system.

Muni and BART were among U.S. transit agencies that responded to the international incident in which Russian authorities said two women blew themselves up Monday morning, killing 38 people. Although the attacks were thousands of miles away, the ripple effect was felt on the two largest transit agencies in the Bay Area, which moved to reassure riders.

BART, which carries about 350,000 passengers daily, deployed bomb-sniffing dogs throughout the system. Police officers and staff members were briefed on the Moscow situation and told to be extra cautious of any suspicious behavior, according to agency spokesman Linton Johnson, who added that all police officers were trained in counterterrorism measures.

Muni, which handles about 700,000 boardings a day, sent canine units to strategic sites throughout San Francisco, according to spokeswoman Kristen Holland. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency briefed frontline personnel, such as fare inspectors and operators, to be extra vigilant in monitoring safety, and coordinated security efforts with the Police Department in underground Metro stations. Muni also ran hourly public announcements, asking passengers and staff to report any suspicious bags or packages.

Subways have been an attractive target for terrorists, supplying them with many victims in a tight space with fairly limited security measures, according to Jeffrey Mankoff, an adjunct fellow for Russian Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

London and Madrid have experienced terrorist attacks on their transit systems. Last month, Colorado resident and Afghan immigrant Najibullah Zazi pleaded guilty to being the leader of a plot to bomb the New York subway system.

Despite the heightened sense of security Monday, riders on BART and Muni said the events in Russia would have little effect on their travel plans.

“This really won’t change anything for me because I don’t live my life in fear,” said Sarai Schneider, a San Francisco resident who traveled on BART on Monday. “Any time you walk out the door, something terrible can happen, but you can’t let that dictate your life.”

Hugo Storm, a San Francisco native who rode Muni on Monday, agreed with Schneider.

“Hopefully we’ll never experience a terrorist attack here,” Storm said. “But unfortunately, in today’s modern world, that’s a risk you take. It’s the choice between stepping out into the public domain or spending the rest of your life indoors.”

San Francisco transit user Wayne Narruhn said he has few reservations about continuing to travel on BART.

“I haven’t felt unsafe at all,” Narruhn said. “These are things you just deal with and move on.”

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Will Reisman

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