A couple of weeks ago Jeff Welch had an informative piece about Metro security. He defends Metro security personnel and calls on passengers to take a more active role in policing behavior. That’s as good a prescription as any, because really no one is in charge of security on a Metro bus.
I found this tidbit about 911 procedures interesting:
Metro (and Sgt. Urquhart today on KIRO) encourages passengers to call 911 to report onboard incidents. Problem: 911 tends to respond to such incidents DIFFERENTLY than if they were occurring at a fixed location. In my experience (and it has happened), when a customer dials 911 to report an onboard incident that the driver may be unaware of, the response of the 911 operator is to contact Metro’s Control Center if they have enough information to identify the coach. The Control Center then attempts to contact the Operator via radio to tell them that a passenger onboard is in touch with 911 and reporting an incident – asking in effect, “what’s up with that”?
Rather than waste time duplicating contact information or wasting time trying to get the (busy) driver to confirm the onboard issue, 911 should be in direct contact with local law enforcement (remember – Metro is County-wide and spans multiple jurisdictions), 911 operators responding to calls from passengers should immediately dispatch local law enforcment (as practical) to the bus’s location.
There really isn’t an easy answer to security problems because personnel cost money, and I think most people would be reluctant to give up service to pay for more patrolling. The best hope is probably more off-board payment systems like Link, Sounder, and RapidRide, which require fare inspectors. High-capacity vehicles like Link and Sounder also allow one guard to protect a larger number of passengers. I guess we’ll have to settle for that.