UPDATE: Fake bombs prompt evacuations of buses, local businesses in Santa Monica

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Two suspicious bags that were removed by the bomb squad from two Santa Monica city buses during Monday morning's rush hour turned out to be prop devices left behind after a weekend security training exercise.

The black duffel bags had wires coming out of them to look like explosives, and caused riders to alert drivers in Santa Monica and Culver City on Monday, said Suja Lowenthal, spokeswoman for Big Blue Bus.

"The Big Blue Bus deeply regrets the inconvenience and concern caused by today's incident," Lowenthal said. "We are grateful to our riders for being so alert and speaking up."

The mistake inconvenienced riders, other commuters and nearby businesses. The buses and nearby businesses had to be evacuated, and streets were shut down for hours after the bags were reported. Los Angeles County sheriff's bomb squad cleared the vehicles for service.

The buses were among four used Saturday in a regional exercise in which suspicious items were intentionally left on board to see if the drivers found them. All the bags were supposed to have been removed before the buses were placed back in service.

Once the packages were discovered, the bus drivers contacted dispatch and were instructed to exit the bus while the prop was investigated by the bomb squad.

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