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A commuter reads some papers as he waits for his train to leave the station at the MacArthur BART station in Oakland, Calif. Monday, Aug. 17, 2009. (Kristopher Skinner / Bay Area News Group)

BART plans to increase police patrols and tinker with San Francisco train stops on New Year's Eve, one year after a transit police officer's fatal shooting of an unarmed holiday reveler rocked the public transit system.

BART leaders said the changes include easing train delays, crowding and conflicts among the masses of New Year's revelers who squeeze into trains before and after holiday parties and celebrations — especially after a midnight waterfront fireworks show in San Francisco.

BART's handling and staffing for crowd control came under fire following the Jan. 1 tragedy when transit police pulled Oscar Grant III, of Hayward, off a train at Oakland's Fruitvale station after a dispute among passengers.

Officer Johannes Mehserle fatally shot Grant as he lay on the ground, igniting protests and civil disturbances in Oakland. Mehserle has been charged with murder.

"Our message to the public is: Have fun, drink reasonably and be safe," BART spokesman Linton Johnson said. "We think these measures will help assure our passengers get to their destinations safely."

BART plans to double to about 200 officers its New Year's Eve police patrols on the trains, he said. BART will supply most of the officers, but Oakland and San Francisco police and Alameda County sheriffs's deputies also will pitch in.

BART also plans to have many transit system managers, secretaries, legal workers and other nonpolice employees ride trains and walk the stations in colored vests to answer riders' questions.


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Those transit employees will not act as police officers, Johnson said, but they can alert police if needed.

"They gives us an extra set of eyes and ears," he said.

BART also will tinker with train stops to ease crowding on trains from San Francisco to the East Bay.

Trains heading east on the Pittsburg-Bay Point and Richmond lines will stop at the Montgomery station, but they will skip the busy Embarcadero station.

Fremont and Dublin-bound trains will stop at the Embarcadero station but pass through Montgomery without stopping.

"By staggering the stops, we hope to spread out the crowds instead of everyone going to Embarcadero station at the same time," BART spokeswoman Luna Salaver said.

Crowding at the Embarcadero station on previous New Year's eves slowed passenger entry into the stations and train departures, she said.

BART will run extra trains on New Year's Eve and extend train service until 3 a.m. Jan. 1.

BART officials downplayed one media report that the train system is having trouble getting enough train operators to sign up to work on New Year's. Operators have until Dec. 30 to sign up, Johnson said.

Reach Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Read the Capricious Commuter blog at www.ibabuzz.com/transportation.