Protests do little to scare off commuters at SF BART stations 

The last two Mondays’ protests may have angered BART riders, but they didn’t drive them away in droves.

BART officials say they carry about 340,000 riders on a typical Monday. But this Monday, when the evening commute was shut down in response to several dozen protesters, ridership was 336,582. The prior Monday, BART had 329,550 riders, about 3 percent below normal.

Yet it doesn’t appear that commuters decided to work from home or find other ways to work. On both days, the ridership was about normal in the morning, but saw a drop in the evening in the four downtown San Francisco stations, BART spokeswoman Luna Salavar said.

More commuters may decide to find other modes of transportation or simply telecommute if such demonstrations become a regular Monday occurrence. Protesters have already announced they will return to the streets — and BART platforms — again next Monday.

Although no one was arrested in the first protests, some 40 people were arrested this week. The majority received citations for blocking traffic and refusing to disperse and have since been released, San Francisco police Officer Albie Esparza said. One man was arrested and charged for lighting a flammable substance, he said.

District Attorney spokesman Seth Steward said prosecutors are still reviewing police reports and have not yet determined whether they will prosecute any of the people arrested.

A police shooting of a homeless man wielding a knife in July inspired several protests since then. During one, which failed to materialize, BART cut off cell service in its tunnels and platforms to foil the demonstration. But that enraged First Amendment advocates and the shadowy hacker collective Anonymous, some of whose self-proclaimed members called for the Monday protests.

Both protests managed to shut down the evening commute for more than two hours. This week’s demonstrators marched up and down Market Street, interrupting traffic, and some commuters argued publically with protesters over the inconvenience.

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Katie Worth

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