BART today announced a re-organization of its communications department that does not include longtime spokesperson Linton Johnson. When contacted by the San Francisco Examiner, Johnson said, "They’re telling me I no longer speak for the district. If you want answers, you’ll have to go the communications department that I built."
BART outlined Johnson's new role in a press release announcing Jim Allison and Luna Salaver as the "key media contact points for BART..." Johnson had been the primary spokesperson until he went on personal leave in late August.
Johnson's new role, per BART:
Linton Johnson has been appointed to the position of Strategic Program Manager for External Affairs. He will work with BART departments to develop and implement large scale communications strategies for major
District programs. Some of these programs include the planning and acquisition of a new rail car fleet for BART, a pilot project to place digital screens on station platforms to improve communication of important messages and public information, and the on-going roll out of the Clipper Card, among other initiatives.
Johnson's reassignment comes a few months after a particularly difficult period for both him and BART. In August protesters targeted the transit agency over the shooting death by BART police of Charles Hill, a 45-year-old transient who police said had been brandishing a knife at them.
Anti-BART sentiment gained momentum after BART shut down cell phone service in a successful attempt to pre-emptively disrupt a planned protest. A loosely-knit group of computer activists self-identifying under the banner "Anonymous" took severe offense at the action, equating it to tactics used by authoritarian regimes like Egypt during this year's "Arab Spring."