Thursday’s P-I had an interesting article about rider-on-driver violence and Metro’s efforts to combat it. Basically, they’ve shifted from off-duty police officers to a dedicated transit police force, and seems to have some positive effects.
It should surprise no one that the No. 7 is by far the worst route, with ten times the usual number of assaults. That’s partly because the 7 has the heaviest ridership in the system, but it’s also because of socioeconomic problems in the Rainier Valley.
Since the 7 and Central Link will serve more or less the same population, there’s both a danger and an opportunity here for Sound Transit. Because there’s a limited number of stations and many more riders per vehicle, it’s much more cost-effective to provide comprehensive security at stations at ground zero of a low-intensity gang war. On the other hand, if ST lets these kinds of problems develop on the train, just a few incidents will gain Link a reputation for being dangerous and other neighborhoods will become hesitant to give “that element” easy access to their neighborhoods, opening the door for Tim Eyman or the legislature to come in and mess everything up.
We have a situation where the cost of prevention is small and the consequences of failure could be fairly severe. I suggest they invest in the prevention.