If the closure was done "out of an abundance of caution," the question remains as to why the Transbay Joint Power Authority didn't do more to alert the public in a timely manner. Many commuters found out as they were approaching the transit center.
The crack in the steel beam was discovered at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning. It makes sense that it took engineers several hours to understand the extent of the problem. But, by 2:30 in the afternoon, Bay Area transit agencies were warned that an area was being cordoned off to give inspectors more space. Then came a second call that would change everything.
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"At 3:30 it was clear that the statement was that closure of the terminal is imminent," explained Robert Lyles of AC Transit.
Yet, at 3:30, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority failed to put out an alert, even though they knew the closure was imminent.
Instead, at least one media outlet got wind of the situation and tweeted it.
Then at 4:20 p.m. Golden Gate Transit alerted it riders to say service to and from the transit center was cancelled.
The other transit agencies quickly followed.
"At this point we started developing plans to ensure that we were getting the information out to the public as soon as we could," said Paul Rose of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
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It wasn't until 4:29 that the Transbay Joint Powers Authority sent out a press release and later had a press conference.
But by then commuters were finding out for themselves that the transit center was closed.
"We did not wait, the only thing we waited for is the analysis of the designer of the severity of the situation and what steps we needed to take," exaplained Mark Zabaneh, executive director of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority.
The Salesforce Transit Center sent out its first tweet about the closure at 10 p.m.
Salesforce Transit Center is temporarily closed; bus service operating out of Temporary Transbay Terminal at Howard & Main St. The Center will reopen as soon as possible. Check https://t.co/xYFHlTRNbz for latest transit information. Media statement here: https://t.co/TelyTRfE5W— Salesforce Transit Center (@TransitCenterSF) September 26, 2018
Even the city's emergency alert system, which is meant to send out notifications via text, sent out theirs at 5:04 p.m.
"I'm sure there are things we could have done better. I don't know what we could have done, we have to do lessons learned. Hopefully we don't have another situation like this," said Zabaneh.
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