Mountain View Voice

News - April 23, 2010

Suspicious bag shuts downtown light rail

Another bomb scare in SF, plus a stalled car in Palo Alto, make for bad commutes

by Staff Reports

This week began badly for rail passengers after two apparently unrelated bomb scares, one in downtown Mountain View, disrupted service Monday evening. Those incidents were followed by another Caltrain delay Tuesday morning when a car stalled on the tracks in Palo Alto.

The Mountain View incident resulted in the closure of the VTA Light Rail station in downtown Mountain View on Monday night after someone noticed a suspicious bag in the area at around 7:15 p.m., according to Valley Transportation Authority spokesperson Brandi Childress.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office responded to the station, which remained closed until about 9:30 p.m., she said. A "bus bridge" was set up to take passengers between the Mountain View and Whisman stations, where they were able to continue on the light rail line.

Sheriff's Department spokesman Sgt. Rick Sung told the Voice the bag was a duffel containing a battery with soldered wires. The department's bomb squad used a water cannon to safely dispose of the bag, he said, and bomb technicians are investigating the remnants of what appear to be a small electronic device to determine if it actually was an explosive.

The closure also affected some Caltrain service in the area, which had experienced its own problems earlier that day after a bomb threat was called in to the agency, halting all trains between San Francisco and Millbrae for several hours.

According to Caltrain spokesperson Christine Dunn, someone called Caltrain at about 2:45 p.m. Monday claiming there was a bomb on one of the southbound trains leaving San Francisco. Trains were inspected by transit police, and 150 passengers and crew aboard one train were evacuated and taken by bus to Millbrae. Caltrain resumed to full service later that afternoon.

On Tuesday morning, trains were again delayed after a car stalled on the tracks in Palo Alto, according to Dunn. It was not hit by a train and no one was injured, she said.

All trains reportedly were back on schedule as of 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. No one was hurt in any of the incidents.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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