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San Francisco, Pleasanton BART trains ready for huge crowds tonight

Police will be out in force to make sure party-goers have a safe, fun time

Large crowds are expected converge on San Francisco's waterfront tonight for New Year's Eve celebrations, and the city's Police Chief George Gascon is encouraging everyone to stay safe while celebrating the holiday.

With an estimated quarter-million people coming to watch the fireworks along the Embarcadero, and many others partying around the city to ring in 2011, police officers will be out in force to nab those breaking the law.

"We want people to come here and have fun, but we want to provide a safe environment for them to do that," Gascon said.

In particular, officers will be cracking down on public drunkenness, open containers, underage drinking, driving under the influence and firearm discharges.

Crowd control will be an issue in the city, and Gascon encouraged revelers to use public transit to get around.

San Francisco Municipal Railway service will be free from 8 p.m. today to 6 a.m. Saturday, with extra service provided on certain lines. Information on Muni's New Year's Eve service is available at www.sfmta.com.

BART will extend its service until 3 a.m. Saturday, although trains will skip some downtown San Francisco stations to prevent overcrowding.

The Pleasanton/Dublin and Fremont lines will stop at the Embarcadero station but not Montgomery. The Pittsburg/Bay Point and Richmond lines will stop at the Montgomery station but not the Embarcadero station.

Trains coming into San Francisco from the East Bay will stop at all stations, according to BART officials.

BART police Chief Kenton Rainey said the agency will have "a large contingency (of officers) on both sides of the Bay" and will have "zero tolerance" for law-breaking behavior on trains.

Caltrain will operate on a regular weekday schedule, and is adding four post-event trains that will take passengers down the Peninsula after the fireworks show. Those trains will leave the San Francisco Caltrain station at 12:45 a.m., 1 a.m., 1:45 a.m. and 2:15 a.m.

There is a chance of rain on New Year's Eve, which Gascon said could affect the size of crowds at the fireworks show and other open-air venues.

"But we have a hardy population and I'm sure people will still be coming out, and we want them to have a good time," he said.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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