BART, Airports Boost Vigilance in Wake of London Attacks

Bay Area transportation officials are taking extra precautions today in the wake of a series of deadly terrorist bombings of trains and a bus in London.

Public transportation agencies throughout the Bay Area raised their official alert level to orange -- the second highest level -- in response to a directive from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Officials said few of the changes will inconvenience commuters, although the Bay Area Rapid Transit system closed all its restrooms.

BART police also beefed up their numbers and made a show of their presence in the stations and on the trains, said spokesman Linton Johnson. Officers made more patrols, peered into trains and scrutinized passengers, and kept closer tabs on critical areas. BART managers donned bright green vests and boarded trains to keep an eye out for suspicious passengers and unattended baggage.

Johnson said BART was taking a number of other steps that he wouldn't discuss. No specific threats to BART or other transit agencies had been issued by the Department of Homeland Security, he added.

Caltrain officials sent canine units and extra patrols out along the 77-mile San Francisco-to-Gilroy passenger train route, said spokeswoman Jayme Kunz. Local law enforcement officials agreed to step up patrols near transit centers, where supervisors will be available to answer questions. Passengers or others who see anything suspicious on Caltrain should contact a conductor or call 1-877-SAFRAIL.

SamTrans, which provides bus service in San Mateo County, told drivers to regularly and thoroughly check for suspicious packages and persons, Kunz said.

Although the London attacks -- which killed at least 33 and injured more than 100, according to early tallies -- were aimed at public ground transit systems, U.S. airports were urging employees and passengers to be extra vigilant, too.

At San Francisco International Airport, spokesman Mike McCarron said the airport was working with the San Francisco Police Department to schedule extra patrols, and borrowed some canine units to aid in the sweeps.

Flights to and from London were not affected so far, he said. ''Everything's proceeding pretty much normally,'' McCarron said.

A spokesman at Mineta San Jose International Airport, Rich Dressler, also reported ''pretty much business as usual,'' and that security remained at the yellow level. The Department of Homeland Security directive ordering an upgrade to orange did not affect airports.

Because the London attack was directed at subways and buses, Dressler said, there was no real sign of undue stress or nervousness among airport passengers.