“The 124”, by Mike Bjork

Around midnight Saturday January 23, a driver on Metro Route 124 was beaten unconscious by a passenger.  She may have been too slow letting him off the back door. The driver is recovering. Several suspects have been arrested and charged. Local newspapers and TV covered the story. Accounts are online. The media knows the drill. And that’s just the problem. Situation normal.

Now, even on rough routes, passengers don’t attack drivers every shift. Any 7-11 clerk is in worse criminal danger, for lousier wages and coverage. What mostly injures transit drivers is their own work day. Knee joint damage. Carpal tunnel syndrome. Back injuries. Those “gold-plated” medical benefits are legitimate repair bills for a forty hour week driving a bus.

But on about a half dozen routes, it’s not only drivers who regularly face personal violence. Most transit assault victims are passengers, who pay fares and taxes for the system and get no compensation for abuse on board. For a transit system fighting for its political and budgetary life, its people’s safety is its own as well.

I never drove Highway 99- no trolleywire. But Route 7 in the mid 1980’s also featured regular situations needing police. So I have a few suggestions about what “we” – meaning everyone who operates, rides, or cares about transit- can do to give ourselves the civilized travel people pay for, after the jump.

If We’re The King County Executive:

We publicly endorse Operations Manager Jim O’Rourke’s actual door policy, permitting passengers to leave by all coach doors after 7pm, outside the Downtown Seattle Ride-Free Area. We add that drivers will use all doors in the tunnel for deboarding- which most already do.

The original front-door-only-after-7 rule was always bad operating policy. Angry passengers were literally forced into right-hook range of the driver just to get off the bus. Law-abiding passengers who already paid their fares had to walk sixty feet, including those with luggage. Buses were chronically late, making Link trains late in the tunnel as well.

But the rule itself originated with ATU Local 587 in response to a legitimate question: is there anything a driver can personally do to prevent the bus from becoming one more piece of an ugly and dangerous street scene? Forget door policy! The 124 driver was already, and with Metro’s permission, trying to comply with the passenger who hospitalized her.

The answer is: many things. But whatever uniform you wear, you don’t face down trouble without backup.

If We’re The King County Sheriff:

We swiftly shift transit police tactics from reactive to powerfully pro-active. Not police on every bus all the time-but a high probability of police among passengers likely to need their protection. Half a dozen routes account for most of the Sheriff’s transit work- whose drivers and passengers will be glad to have deputies join them aboard buses.

In my experience, the type of people who attacked the 124 driver- not drunk or mentally ill, but just vicious- aren’t afraid of legislation. Laws too lenient? That’s for another post. But the fact is that scores of young passengers have close associates who scare them more than the Walla Walla death chamber. Hardened, maybe-but being arrested on the bus spoils their whole night. Make that likely, and dozens of crime scenes will remain peaceful buses.

If We’re Sheriff’s Deputies Assigned to Transit:

We let our superiors know we want to start riding buses, and develop union work rules to make bus-riding duty a good assignment. Transit policing is really a neighborhood beat-cop job- though police bicycles in the aisle might make suspect escape a lot harder.

Seriously, it’s a lot to ask of an officer to take an unglamorous shift whose whole goal is to make trouble not happen. But boarding teams protect the very people who deserve it most: working people who can’t afford to drive. Or who drive buses at hours when they’d rather be home with their families. Officers on board will be appreciated – and their presence will improve the quality of ridership.

If We’re Transit Drivers:

We know the rules. But we radio people with the tools, training, and backup to enforce them. Nor do we ever “do nothing” about violence. A clear and accurate radio report on a crime in progress; a swift call to Control about brewing trouble; a good detailed incident report- these aren’t “nothing.” They protect police, and win court cases.

We consciously practice coach-handling, making every acceleration, turn, and stop smoother than the last. A comfortable ride shows a skilled, confident driver- who faces much less trouble than the opposite kind. We know our exact location every second of the run.

Weapons and Plexiglas shields? We have a huge, well-lighted machine; communications to summon police; and most of all, our own skill, experience and judgment. Not perfect, but better than anything out of a security gadget catalog.

We read Recording Secretary Brian Sherlock’s interview with Metro Operations Manager Jim O’Rourke on page 7 of this month’s union newsletter. And have our union hold Jim to his promise that Metro discipline won’t put any driver between a rule and their own personal safety. Case history bears him out- though a general work atmosphere that renders many drivers skeptical has to change.

If We’re Transit Management:

We treat transit drivers with the respect due co-workers whose office conditions we personally wouldn’t tolerate for five minutes. And we don’t exercise authority over them in a manner we forbid them to use on their passengers. Not every infraction deserves punishment for consistency’s sake. Not every customer complaint is valid. Good work deserves compliments from us, and we’re grateful for the quality and quantity we get.

Conflicting demands of budget and service now mean we’ll have to ask more from people than we can really pay them for. Right now a grain of voluntary cooperation is worth a bushel of compelled obedience. And drivers who know they’ve got the company’s confidence will have the self-confidence that wards off assaults upon them and their passengers.

If We’re Passengers:

Same as above- tripled. A month before I took the Route 7, a night driver was beaten nearly to death by his passengers. He owes his life to three women schoolteachers from the neighborhood coming home from a meeting, who dove into a mob of attackers and pulled him out with their bare hands. The Route 124 driver couldn’t reach her radio- but passengers called police on cell-phones. That, everybody, is what’s really meant by “Transit Security!”

Drivers are our employees too, and their contribution to our lives entitles them at least to respect, courtesy, and patience. Bad economy or not, one thing everybody can afford to give everybody else is a break.

Mark Dublin is a former Metro bus driver and was a vocal member of Amalgamated Transit Union 587.

84 Replies to “Bus Violence”

  1. More security, please! It isn’t just the risk to operators’ and passengers’ safety, but the cost of repairing all the annoying vandalism.

    ST has shown us how to partially fund some extra security: Ambassadors double as ticket checkers. If we have deboarding and boarding at all doors, there will be much less opportunity for someone to get into an argument with the operator, and potentially come to blows. If someone doesn’t pay at the back door, they run the risk that an ambassador is watching, and asks to see their payment. The bus isn’t held up by a stonewalling nonpayer at the front, the operator doesn’t become security, and the ambassador can arrange for a transit police vehicle to rendezvous before (s)he approaches the nonpayer.

    Faster travel speed, more security, and don’t make the operators double as security. Can we make it happen?

    I’d even be willing to give up a little frequency to fund roving security and faster travel speed.

    1. RapidRide will have fare inspectors, so that’s a start towards letting it propagate through the system.

      1. I’d like Mayor McGinn to consider making security part of any transit bond issue, whether or not we are close to universal pay-at-all-doors entry.

        If people are complaining that they don’t consider an early morning bus ride to Link as a reason for parking spaces, let’s at least listen to why they don’t consider a bus ride to be safe.

      2. True, but the City can partner with the County on these issues. The City can fund the capital costs of off-vehicle payment stations, for example. The City funds a fair amount of bus service already and pays for the free ride area. McGinn has talked about a ballot initiative this fall. Such an initiative can easily include funding for transit security deployed through a contract / partnership.

        Buses are a County resource and security should be a county responsibility, but if the County does not have the money, the City should not sit on their hands.

      3. Tony,

        City funds a fair amount of bus service already and pays for the free ride area

        Uh – no, actually the City does NOT pay for the Ride Free Area. They contribute toward it – at a fraction of the actual cost of providing the service.

        If you’re talking about providing transit security under a City plan – there are jurisdictional and other issues to consider, but I’d be interesting in hearing how that might work.

        I agree that the City should not sit on their hands. McGinn can start by either paying the full cost of the Ride Free Area – or agreeing to end it.

      4. To clarify – my understanding is tht the City of Seattle compensates Metro to the tune of $400,000.00 per year for service in the Ride Free Area – an amount established under contract in 1973 (!) and unchanged in the 38 years since. Costs of the RFA are now $6-7 MILLION per year, so a claim that the City “pays for the ride free area” really doesn’t hold up.

      5. I don’t quite follow this: “they don’t consider an early morning bus ride to Link as a reason for parking spaces”.

        I consider the bus safe enough to take to work and back, and run errands during the daytime, but when I’m going to be returning home after 9:00 or so, I choose to drive even when I might otherwise take the bus, because of perceived lower safety.

      6. Why do you perceive safety to be less after 9 pm, and what would convince you that it is safe to ride the bus after 9 pm?

      7. The few times before 9pm that I’ve seen passengers act threatening, they were often drunk. I imagine that there are more drunks the later it gets, especially since drunk people are encouraged not to drive, for good reason. Of course, people can drink any time of day, and the only time I’ve been on a bus when somebody spilled beer all over his seatmates it was before 9am. (Fortunately he got only my shoes, but people in their business clothes headed to work were not happy.) However, I’m talking about reducing my percentage of personal risk, not striving for zero risk.

        What would convince me? I don’t know. I wouldn’t want to encourage drunks to drive by discouraging them from riding the bus.

        Call me elitist, but back when 194 paralleled 577, people on their way to or from a job tended to ride 577, especially if their employer subsidized their passes. People who just wanted to ride around, swear loudly, harass other passengers, etc., tended to ride 194 because it was cheaper. So maybe charge a premium for a “serious” route paralleling a “goof-off” route? :-)

    2. Brent- word!
      A major difference between Link and Metro is that I *always* see security on Link. I’ve yet to see an undercover officer on Meto deal with a bad situation unfolding next to me.

  2. I was riding the 43 a few years back when some guy hit me. The driver noticed and threw the guy off at the next stop. A police car just happened to be passing by and the driver flagged the cops down. Within a minute the driver had gotten a violent guy off his bus and had him arrested. I just want to say thanks to you and all the other drivers who keep the buses safe.

    1. But should it be the drivers’ job?! Great job by that driver- but don’t they have enough to do besides policing too?!

  3. Some thought might be given to cutting troublemakers out of any other publicly funded systems – Medicaid, Housing, etc., for a period of time long enough to inflict serious disruption in their personal lives.
    Our ‘justice’ system has become just that, a system to be gamed and played.
    We need to change the rules and start administering real punishments, beyond suspended light sentences.

    1. Having personally seen considerable destructive criminality up close- I drove a cab in Detroit for a couple of years long before I drove transit-I can think of a lot worse things I would have liked to see things happen to the perpetrators than anything either of us- both of us being civilized and also old- could really ever do.

      The trouble with punishment as a remedy for crime is that criminals have to be seriously worried they’ll get caught, and also care if they do. I meant what I said about people looking at a non-judicial death sentence any night- not only no appeal but no arrest. Just “What you lookin’ at?” and a flash and a bang. A police bullet is ‘way down the list of their worries, let alone loss of public benefits.

      Since we’re both old- I remember Detroit when it was a great town with wonderful Greek restaurants, a fine art museum, and a world-respected jazz scene- we both remember an economy where a teen-aged boy who’d outgrown high school- as many always do- could get a decent, respected job that paid enough to let him marry and start a family, as most did.

      And since we’re both just working people, neither of us is to blame for four decades of economic policies that now condition a living wage on a formal education conditioned on a very large family income. For everybody else-a life working for people who think a “union-free” economy is a good thing. Not just wretched pay and no benefits, but no hope, and absolutely no respect.

      What’s the only way for a sixteen-year-old to be treated like a full adult by the law now? Commit aggravated first-degree murder! Get convinced early that your only self-respecting living is outside the law and the law scares you like the wind scares a sailor. A sentence to a bad prison becomes a scholarship to the Wharton School of Business. And you don’t plan to reach Medicaid age.

      The worst thing about being an old citizen is that the last generation we could to blame the world condition on now appear on the obituary page every day in their fine uniforms and radiant decency, and I miss some of them terribly. Next worst is knowing that what isn’t our fault is now our responsibility, and our time and means are short.

      If we’ve lived good lives ourselves, and I think we’ve both done the best we could, we’ve at least set examples for several generations of younger people, of whom the truly vicious are a small minority. The young people I’m meeting now are a lot nicer than I was at their age, and always call me “sir”, which breaks my heart. Most of the work toward a decent world I couldn’t finish, they will.

      Give some respect to wish of the 124 driver who got hurt: as a nice woman and a mother, she wanted to give the boy a hug. Which- to Hell with Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck- she surely earned the right to say. That and a mandatory year as a night orderly in the Harborview emergency room might very well produce a man who’ll protect a bus driver instead of hit one.

      Mark Dublin

    2. All that would do would be to get criminals more pissed off at society and more desperate. It’s not a solution at all.

      1. I couldn’t agree more.

        One time in middle school, during “career day”, a cop came in and talked about his job. He talked about some felons that he had helped put behind bars, and he said that he went out of his way to make sure that any prospective employers knew about their felony conviction. You could tell that he basically didn’t want the criminals to ever have real jobs. This seemed like the stupidest policy you could possibly have: if they can’t get real jobs, then what choice do they have other than returning to a life of crime?

  4. We let our superiors know we want to start riding buses, and develop union work rules to make bus-riding duty a good assignment.

    This specific issue came up at last night’s ATU 587 monthly charter meeting – i.e. why transit security doesn’t ride buses. Sound Transit – particularly Link – has active (though private) security in a regular, visible, and active presence, why not Metro?

    The answer from Union leadership – who regularly meets with the heads of Transit Security – was basically twofold: the officers themselves (along with their union) don’t feel that it is safe for one officer at a time to ride buses, undercover or not. They want backup – in the form of additional officers on board any bus and/or following or nearby marked vehicle support. Why is it safe to have one driver put in this situation but not one (armed, trained) police officer? I asked. No answer, but I believe had I received one it would have hedged on the difference in roles and safety: officers are expected to confront miscreants – drivers are not, and with confrontation comes safety risk.

    The second issue was one of cost and scope. Link has relatively few miles of travel and a relatively small number of vehicles. Metro has hundreds of buses on the road at a time, and covers thousands of square miles.

    Now – I think that both explanations/answers for why there isn’t a more active presence of Transit Security Officers onboard are unsatisfactory, although I can appreciate the logic.

    I do believe that having uniformed or undercover officers patrolling – and confronting – blatant rule-breakers and other potentially dangerous folks on board buses is do-able with few officers, and that they don’t have to cover all routes all the time to be effective. As a part of a well-publicized public safety campaign, spot-checks, citations and occasional arrests can go a long way towards ending the impression of lawlessness on board many problem routes, and the well-deserved impression that drivers are out there on their own and powerless to do anything when problems occur.

    As it stood after last night’s meeting, union leadership appeard to be more focused on defensive measures such as plastic shields for the driver (which ATU President Paul Bachtel admitted weren’t having any notable success anywhere they’ve been tried), and other ‘solutions’ such as elimination of the Ride Free Area so that if/when fare evasion issues occur, they occur in the urban center where help is nearby.

    While we can argue the merits of building a better driver-trap (and they do trap heat, sound, and reflect light as well as often being an unwelcome barrier between drivers and the passengers we see every day); or of eliminating the ride-free area to avoid the on-free, adding police presence should NOT be taken off the table or dismissed out of hand as too costly, dangerous, or impractical.

    1. I agree, I want to see some of those 72 transit police out riding the buses from time to time.

      As you say they don’t need to be on every route all the time. Just focusing on the top 10 or even the top 3/4 problem routes (174/124, 7, 358) and on the late afternoon, evenings, and nights would send a message to the punks that cause most of the problems.

      If it isn’t safe for a single officer to ride a bus, then fine, have them ride in pairs. If that still isn’t safe enough then have an officer or two follow in a car to provide further backup.

      The point is I want to see the Metro transit police somewhere other than just riding up and down Third avenue during the middle of the day on their bikes.

      1. I’m not in favor of having marked cars following buses. For one thing it only encourages those interested in mayhem from simply looking out the window – seeing no car, and doing their thing. If cars need to be standing by to assist on board officers, they should be over the horizon or unmarked.

    2. So Metro Transit Police are afraid to ride transit by themselves?!

      This suggests to me, Ben, that undercover Metro cops aren’t effective deterrents, or that issues aren’t minor on Metro buses. And my experience on Metro confirms this.

  5. If metro wasn’t dirt poor, I’d suggest a little camera that snaps everyone’s picture as they board and exit. It’s certainly isn’t perfect protection, but might stop those that think they can get away with violence (or even consistent fare evasion).

    1. Matt the Engineer,

      The camera issue came up as well. There are 200 or so buses that are camera equipped with full-motion digital cameras (and sound) that cover most visible areas inside the bus, and some with up-front cameras that peer out the front window as well. This equipment was purchased with Homeland Security grants a few years back – with a few strings attached.

      One of those strings is that Homeland Security apparently has some say over where its equipment gets used, and right now priority is given to routes that travel through the Downtown Transit Tunnel.

      One Operator at last night’s meeting quipped (brilliantly methinks) that maybe Metro should just schedule all problem routes through the tunnel then – if for no other reason than to ensure that all coaches on those routes are camera equipped.

      Ultimately though Union leadership noted (and I tend to agree) that the presence of onboard security cameras tends not to be a deterrent either to terrorism (don’t they WANT to be on camera when they blow themselves up?) or the type of miscreants that shoot up, assault drivers, etc. on board buses. Either the cameras don’t register to those folks – or they tend just not to care.

      1. The cameras have been in operation for several years. It’s pretty obvious when you board a bus, which ones have it and which ones don’t.
        Does anyone know what the numbers are for violence on board buses based on whether or not a security camera system exists?
        Is it really a deterant? If so, equip every bus with fake cameras to keep cost down.

      2. As a driver I would be vehemently against fake cameras on buses. If there are to be cameras – they need to be real ones, and FUNCTIONAL. A number of camera coaches I’ve driven had cameras clearly not working (the red ‘mark’ button was an empty hole in the sidewall), and for the rest – there is no indicator light or other type of assurance that cameras are on and working.

      3. That’s an interesting take on my question Jeff of whether or not the very presence of a camera makes the operator any safer.
        If painting the inside of the bus purple made violence go down 50%, I would say paint ’em purple.
        If cameras really don’t curb violence, then the operator still gets beat up just as often, but now the DA has some tape to find the perps, and maybe justice is served.

      4. Mike,

        I’m all for anything that makes buses safer. In the case of the idea of fake cameras – cameras are more than a (intended) deterrent – they’re meant to be a witness. A non-functioning or ‘fake’ camera, while it may have the functionality of being a deterrent (presuming they are, which I question), they would completely lack the quality of a witness.

        Real cameras – that work – will always have the quality of a witness/evidence and in that regard always act as a deterrent against the future crimes of those that their recorded evidence will help prosecute.

        Ultimately I’m not sure that faux cameras would keep costs down in terms of prevented incidents. If anything they’d probably save money in preventing on board incidents from being successfully prosecuted or under-prosecuted due to a lack of evidence – which I’m not sure is the type of savings we’re looking for here.

      5. The Chicago Transit Authority does this. They found the cost of putting cameras on every bus prohibitive, but put the camera housing on every bus so would-be troublemakers don’t know whether they’re being recorded. It’s an update of Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon: prisoners who can’t tell whether they’re being watched behave just as well as prisoners actually being watched.

    1. For most owner/riders, 99%+ of our trips will be safe, but always remember it is OUR transit system – we OWN it and we PAY fares and taxes for a secure and comfortable ride.
      Take note of hooligans’ appearances, (hat, coat, trousers, and most especially shoes and piercings as they are least likely to toss the last 2 away away while running from a train or bus), take pictures if it is safe, record the date, time, route, and coach number whenever possible. Let 911 and Metro KNOW when and where bad stuff is happening.

    1. But- would we then be required not to discriminate against accordions? Like in that Gary Larson cartoon: “Welcome to Heaven, here’s your harp…Welcome to Hell, here’s your…..”

      Better check with Vancouver BC transit about bagpipe policy.

      We also learned in college music class that Chopin touched off riots in Paris and Warsaw with his “ridiculous mazurka,” as one contemporary critic put it. Incidentally, are we required to offer the lift for a grand piano?

      I guess it depends on the individual musician. The violin takes some long practice to become beautiful. In the hands of a beginner, even the threat of violins on a bus should be grounds for arrest.

      Mark Dublin.

  6. Mark,

    We read Recording Secretary Brian Sherlock’s interview with Metro Operations Manager Jim O’Rourke on page 7 of this month’s union newsletter.

    On this point, I would also recommend the article by Jim O’Rourke on page 10 regarding fare evasion – and analyze it well.

    For example, O’Rourke says:

    “We measure fare evasion on a daily basis through the use of the 3 key on the farebox.”

    Uh – no, we don’t, Jim. The “3” key is still there, but according to the training officers that I’ve spoken with, nobody is looking at that data anymore and may not have been for some time. Trainers are telling Operators (those that ask anyway) to use the “No Fare Paid” key on the DDU – part of the new Orca upgrade – rather than the “3” key. Whether *this* data is being looked at, evaluated, or even acknowledged is unknown.

    I haven’t personally hit the “3” key in 5 months. Some drivers tell me that they haven’t hit any key on the farebox (which also includes keys to record youth fares, senior fares, wheelchair lift use, etc.) in years except to log in at the beginning of a run.

    This coming fare evasion survey is another potential can of worms – with direct ties to the security issue as around half of all driver assaults are tied to “fare disputes” (whatever that means). Usually this is something as simple as a driver asking to see a pass or transfer.

    O’Rourke also says: “We need to estimate fare evasion by adults, youths, and seniors, as well as get a measure of partial fare evasion. Most likely, we will use spare keys on the farebox (A through D)”.

    So meanwhile we have this expensive new electronic system – which we’re supposed to be using already – and O’Rourke is talking about using the FAREBOX during a system-wide ‘survey’ involving all drivers who get to monkey with this during their entire shift? All while there are still ongoing issues with the Orca rollout and fare increase causing confusion and unintentional underpayments by hundreds – if not more – users each day?

    Sorry, not much confidence here.

    1. I guess it’s ok to say it now, but for the last 8 years I drove at Metro, I never hit the keys except to log in. I was told Metro didn’t use the data anymore, so what’s the point.
      Well, you’d think after that many years someone would have said something if they really did use it.

      1. Bingo. What bugs me is that O’Rourke seems to think (or said to Sherlock anyway) that it’s being done now, when I think it’s clear that any existing data is meaningless – and any data collected from a driver ‘survey’ involving punching farebox keys for a full-shift is likely to be at best, unreliable.

    2. Has any driver ever been disciplined for not hitting the “3” key? Or hitting it too often? Please explain how the key could ever be tied to discipline.

      Frankly, I think there ought to be a key recording overpayments. We haven’t given change for more than thirty years. My own guess was always that we gain in overpayments as much as we lose in underpayments.

      In the Nordic countries, I noticed that all transit operators, in addition to their driving, had to deal with a very non-sophisticated rack of trays full of coins.

      I have a feeling more transit companies worldwide give change than don’t.

      I used to hit the 3 key if somebody made me mad enough. If I had a chronic fare-evader who was also reliably obnoxious, I’d write- and get paid for- a security incident report.

      As I’ve often noted, a ridiculously overcomplicated fare system makes it punishment for a willing passenger to even try to pay. No donut shop would stay in business making it this hard to pay for its product.

      Best fare system I’ve seen lately: IT in Olympia. No transfers. Fare is one dollar. A paper all-day pass, available from every driver every day is two dollars.

      An all-week all-day pass, double the basic fare- even double the peak-hour fare. Loadable on ORCA cards, too. We could relax a lot more about fare evasion.

      Mark Dublin

  7. There is no answer to the type of violence we have been seeing in Seattle lately.

    Random beatings and slayings of defenseless people or uniformed officers?

    There is no WebCam that will prevent such a thing.

    A more serious issue is at work.

    Violence on a bus is violence everywhere.

  8. The 101 I used to ride had a Seattle Detective commuting on the bus. Once we had a punk toss some litter on the ground in the bus, the detective said “pick that up!” and got an earful. Flashed his badge and the kid ended up cleaning the back end of the bus.

    From this I take away several things:

    1) Police should have free transit passes, so they can ride anytime anywhere with the understanding that if need be they are available to deal with things that come up.

    2) The broken windows theory of crime prevention. Stay on top of the small stuff and the big stuff won’t happen. That’s eating, taking up a heap of seats, fare skipping etc.

    1. 1) The police can already ride Metro for free at any time by showing their badge or ID card.
      2) Also works with keeping coaches clean and in good condition. An unpleasant environment encourages uncivil behavior.

    2. Gary,

      Cops ride free now, those that choose to. The nature of their work though I fear tends to be not entirely public transit commute friendly.

      As far as the broken windows theory I tend to agree – but the only one on board folks expect to deal with that is the bus driver – and our employer explicitly expects us NOT to deal with those things.

      1. Every time anybody says Metro explicitly expects drivers not to deal with misbehavior, I’m going to call them on it. Like I said in the posting, radio calls and written reports are not “not dealing with things.”

        Neither is knowing your exact location at all times. Ask any coordinator how many times he’s had to delay dispatching police response because a driver in trouble couldn’t give him an accurate location.

        What Metro does NOT expect you to do is separate yourself from your coach controls and your radio and get yourself into a confrontation that no armed and trained patrolman would would enter alone.

        I remember being aboard an AC coach down in Oakland while the driver delayed a whole busload of rush-hour passengers for twenty minutes over an argument with a respectably-dressed, well-spoken passenger, and otherwise unoffending passenger over thirty-five cents.

        If somebody had missed a plane or a doctor’s appointment over that one, AC would have gotten a lot more than thirty-five cents’ worth of problems over that one.

        Is that the kind of thing you’d like your employer to explicitly let you-or make you- get into?

        In addition to the measures you DO have for dealing with trouble, you’ve also got a 4000-member union local with a political action committee, and multiple elected representatives to harass. You need more police help, organize, go public and demand it.

        But don’t bad-mouth Metro for trying to keep you from getting into fights that could get you killed, let alone written up.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Mark,

        [b]Every time anybody says Metro explicitly expects drivers not to deal with misbehavior, I’m going to call them on it[/b]

        I’m in agreement with you 100% regarding drivers doing their thing re: calling for help, documenting issues, etc. However I believe that to the average commuter being harassed or assaulted on the spot, that’s neither much comfort not is it in line with their (right or wrong) expectations that the driver is the default on-board security system. My first passenger complaint as a driver was that I (and this is a quote) “did nothing” in response to a passenger complaining that she was being harassed by an intoxicated person. In reality – I had pulled the bus over, opened both doors (he got off), and immediately called it in via PRTT and specifically requested that security respond.

        After the harasser got off the bus, the woman said “nevermind”. I offered to call the police via my own cell phone for her (after the Coordinator basically told me to stuff it regarding my request for security), and she told me to “just shut up and drive the bus”.

        3 days later – I get a “See Me” on this complaint that this incident had occurred and that I “did nothing”. Now – thanks to the S.I.R. that I filed that day as well as a face-to-face with my Base Chief, the complaint was a non-runner.

        My assertion stands with regard to “dealing” with issues beyond picking up the radio now or a pen later. Joe and Jill communter have the expecation that a driver will intervene in the event of an on-board incident beyond that. I don’t think that this is really an arguable point – there was even a (successful) lawsuit following an incident in Columbia City where a woman was assaulted on-board, the driver opened both doors and the attackers and victim all got off – where the victim was assaulted further.

        Also, anytime there’s an on-board incident, there are calls from folks on blogs etc. for the driver to “do their job”.

        So call me on it if you will – I won’t disagree with your premise, but it does rely on a difference in perspective between that of the driver and that of the expectations of the public.

      3. Only objecting to the idea that Metro orders anyone to get hurt. On the point that the entire management of the transit system, starting with the elected officials who set its budget- and the taxpayers who fund it-permits a security situation where every instinct of a decent human being demands that a driver physically intervene- no argument at all.

        I’m not sure how many drivers over the course of their careers have indeed left their seats to help passengers who were being attacked. I did it a few times, and thinking back, wish I’d done it once or twice more.

        A good friend of mine who’s now one of your union officers chased a purse-snatcher off the bus and got the lady’s property back. Metro reminded him of the non-intervention policy- instead of giving him the decoration he deserved, but if he loses the next election he’ll still be driving a trolleybus.

        It’s a normal, healthy reaction, and one of the definitions of public service, to protect people charged to your care. Nobody should ever be punished for doing it. There should be special recognition from Metro and the relevant locality for taking action.

        Also, help with medical bills and it it comes to it, generous survivor’s benefits for the driver’s family. The union should keep a roll of honor.

        You could get beaten, knifed, or shot helping a passenger. Or sued. One real danger, as police will tell you re: intervention in domestic violence, is that it’s not unknown for both parties to attack the would-be rescuer.

        Maybe most serious of all: how many bus drivers are in anywhere near minimum physical condition to get into a fight of any kind- let alone equipped with any fighting skills at all? The usual effect of full-time driving don’t leave many of us “a contender.”

        Seriously,it might be a good idea for Metro to offer some martial arts as part of its health program- great for physical conditioning and confidence, strength, reflexes, and balance. The few months of Russian-navy style aikido I took saved my life when I tripped and fell down the stairs at IDS. It also deprived me of the settlement I could have collected, fully justified by the lousy design of the sharp granite steps. All 24 of them.

        But getting physical really is a case-by-case call, and whatever the consequences, it’s probably easier to live with yourself for trying to help somebody than with the knowledge you could have helped and didn’t, and Metro, the Union, and the Metro Council need to make policy accept that.

        Fares though…3-key and incident report.

        Mark Dublin

      4. Mark,

        Only objecting to the idea that Metro orders anyone to get hurt.

        Well, we are specifically prohibited from carrying anything normally defined as a weapon – and the book says specifically that a “weapon” is not only things like firearms, pepper spray, nunchucks, etc. – but anything USED as a weapon.

        Metro policy specifically prohibits any driver from using anything – including their thermos or trying to fend off an attacker by giving them paper cuts with transfers – to do so.

        Metro also perennially puts out this dual message: fares matter/fares don’t matter. Valid passes matter/valid passes don’t matter. State the correct fare/don’t state the correct fare. Etc.

        So while Metro does not in fact “order anyone to get hurt” (who does?); it sure as heck sets up a deliberately two-faced policy system filled with ambiguity and largely leaving drivers on their own to exercise “good judgement” – without of course offering any real training or guidelines about what official expectations come into play in conflict situations. In other words – Metro (the institution) covers its bureaucratic butt by talking out of both sides of its policy mouth.

        Incident report for fare evasion? Unless the passenger raises a stink likely to result in a complaint – I’d be filling out paperwork most of the morning every single day. 3 key? Not according to the training folks, regardless of what O’Rourke says.

      5. Mark,

        But don’t bad-mouth Metro for trying to keep you from getting into fights that could get you killed, let alone written up

        Also I reviewed what I wrote:

        “our employer explicitly expects us NOT to deal with those things”

        I don’t see any badmouthing of Metro there. Could you clarify?

  9. How about not making the operators ticket-takers, and then giving the operator time to call for backup to deal with a blatant nonpayer?

    The transit policeperson pulls up behind, while the bus is stopped, the operator points out the suspect, then the policeperson approaches the rider to ask for his evidence of payment (ORCA, ticket, or valid transfer). First offense: warning and ejection. Second offense: $124 fine. Every offense thereafter until all tickets are paid off: Criminal trespass warning. Every offense after criminal trespass warning until fines are paid: some time as a guest of the public downtown.

    There really is no punishment for failure to pay bus fare. At best, the operator harangues you over the loudspeaker until (s)he tires of doing so, or you go up to the front and pay. Either way, the operator is being required to engage in a confrontation.

    1. The only thing Metro requires you to do with the loudspeaker is make the required ADA announcements. The company forbids you to get into confrontations so many ways The Book’s as thick as a dictionary.

      You and the union and a lot of other people who hate fare evaders have every right to bombard your public officials with demands for better fare enforcement. But be prepared to pay the additional taxes- or fares to pay for it.

      Or to explain to the police which other calls they need to break off to come deal with fare collection.

      ST has uniformed fare inspectors, and they seem effective. 587 can demand that Metro get some too. The Tunnel would work a lot better after 7PM if the platforms were proof-of-payment zones, and all fares had to be paid on the mezzanines.

      But don’t ever tell yourself or anybody else Metro requires you to get into a confrontation. The agency has a lot of other faults, but that isn’t one of them.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Mark,

        One take on this “avoiding confrontation” thing (which I’m in general agreement with) and Metro policy is that it’s often in my view used by Metro to abdicate its own responsibility to protect drivers and the public by laying responsibility for any and all confrontations that *do* occur at the feet of the driver.

        Even with this last assault, there’s been language used, Base Bulletins issued etc. over the issue of opening rear doors outside the RFA at night. The article from O’Rourke echoes this sentiment, going on about drivers using “good judgement” in deciding when to follow policy, and when to make exceptions. The unspoken accusation – also evident in a Base Bulletin that mentions the assault in one paragraph and chides drivers to open the back doors at night in another – is that this driver brought this assault upon herself.

        Anytime an issue occurs on board a bus where a fare is even mentioned – the driver is reminded not to engage in “fare disputes”. The problem is that there is no working definition of the term “fare disputes”. In practice, this seems to mean anytime any driver dares mention a fare, asks to see a pass or transfer, tells a passenger that the peak fare is $2.25 or that a 2-zone fare carries an additional cost, etc. – and the passenger gets pissed off about it. If a passenger asks a question and doesn’t like the answer – a “fare dispute” has occurred and the driver is at fault. If a driver points out that a passenger has a transfer that’s the right color but the wrong letter (they save transfers to avoid paying) and smacks the driver in the face – it’s a “fare dispute” and the driver brought the assault on themselves.

        All of this is designed to avoid responsible for providing on-board security – and giving the County someone to blame, implicitly or explicitly, when incidents occur.

        So while I can see commending Metro for encouraging – and even requiring – drivers to avoid confrontation, the reality is that often due to the nature of our jobs and the nature of some of our passengers and their perceptions of the world – confrontations CANNOT be avoided. Even in these cases, Metro has hedged its bets and made sure that they can blame the driver – and they do.

  10. “If We’re Sheriff’s Deputies Assigned to Transit: We let our superiors know we want to start riding buses.”

    They don’t.

    “Give some respect to wish of the 124 driver who got hurt: as a nice woman and a mother, she wanted to give the boy a hug … That and a mandatory year as a night orderly in the Harborview emergency room might very well produce a man who’ll protect a bus driver instead of hit one.”

    No, her attacker should not merely get a hug and a job for a year in the emergency room. He needs to be put in jail so society can be protected from him. Should the punishment for rape be a hug and a year working at an ER? Of course not. Give the bus driver sympathy, but her wishes should not be followed at sentencing.

    1. They-meaning sheriff’s deputies assigned to transit duty- don’t want to start riding buses, where their presence really will prevent crime? I really would like to hear from as many of the officers eligible for this kind of duty why they’d object to it.

      If Metro police officers have professional objections to the duty I suggested, would they please write in and tell me where I’m mistaken.

      I didn’t say anything about “merely”- or that he shouldn’t go back to jail every time he gets off shift at Harborview, with the arrangement to persist as long as the law allows.

      If we were talking about a thirty-year-old man, I’d leave out the Harborview part, and I doubt the hug idea ever would’ve arisen. But if protecting society is really what you care about, just plain jaiing a fourteen-year-old boy isn’t going to make society any safer.

      For an assault like this, even if he’s tried as an adult, he’ll still get out of jail young enough to be really dangerous, and with years of additional training in hurting people- the one skill you really need in prison to survive.

      Several years doing some really messy, bloody, smelly work helping save people’s lives WHILE he serves his jail time might give society a chance to get back somebody whose presence isn’t a menace to it. If it doesn’t work, Harborview will have had an unpaid night orderly for the length of his sentence. And he’ll still spend his off-work time locked up.

      Tell me this, though: the court would consider a victim’s wish for a stiffer sentence. Why shouldn’t the judge honor this one? Which he or she probably won’t, and the driver probably doesn’t feel like it anymore anyhow.

      Mark Dublin

  11. I am wondering what causes some routes to be hotbeds of violence when other are much more peaceful. Of the top four most violent routes, the 174/124, 7, and the 358, the first three all serve south of Seattle, the Rainier Valley, and Federal Way. So it would seem that most of the violence is South. However, the 358, which goes to Aurora Village, is on a completely opposite side of Downtown. I have also had a nasty experience on the 358, when some guy sat down next to me, pulled out his switchblade and started opening and closing it over and over for 10 minutes or so. After that he remarked to me that “practice makes perfect,” before the operator told him to put it away. At that point, I was pretty thankful for the bus driver. I just would be interested to see what characteristics cause one route to be more violent than the other.

    1. I’m old enough to remember when the kind of violence we’re talking about got so bad that nice people had to notice- understand that, especially before television, parts of every city, county, and state were always dangerous, but nobody but the victims’ families cared who got killed so long as their income was low.

      When I was 8, I took transit- the “El” for elevated- down to the Chicago Art Museum for charcoal drawing lessons every Saturday. And we lived in a very modest city neighborhood. Nobody ever made a move to hurt or scare me- in Chicago in those days, nobody would have dared, and not for fear of the police.

      But permanent violence became part of the atmosphere around the 1970’s-at the exact time the economy permanently did away with the jobs that previously permitted a strong, physically-active teenaged boy to quit school if he didn’t like it and go to work as a grown man. At wages that would let him start a family as a married man.

      An uneducated man with a limited life, maybe, and a hard, dirty, and dangerous job. But a man working among other men, where the “peer pressure”- from peers who could push- told him that to be respected for toughness and bravery, you had to be a steelworker or a logger or a stone-mason- criminals were punks.

      When those jobs went away, ordinary life started getting dangerous. Not just in this country- the current godawful violence all over the world, from drug wars to civil wars, result from the same thing.

      Everybody talks about “raging hormones” in connection with skin conditions and having sex too soon. But every tribal society understands- as our society used to- that young people have a natural urge more powerful than lust, and more important to the survival of the human race:

      The urge to grow up and be so treated. Africa, Asia, South America- and in this country until about forty years ago- someone fourteen years old was considered a grownup. Not an elder- a young grownup in need of guidance and experience- but no longer a child.

      Deny people the grownup status their whole human system demands, and you’re fighting nature itself. Young people like this from better-off families get more expensive psychiatry and rehab. And better lawyers. They don’t attack bus drivers because they wouldn’t be caught dead on a bus. Neither the 124 nor the 358 runs through their neighborhoods.

      This is the guts of it. Remedy is beyond a transit blog.

      Mark Dublin

      1. I was at Northwestern in 1980 as a college student. It was pretty safe to ride transit and walk around downtown and the area along LSD. Venture a couple of blocks in the “wrong” direction and all bets are off. Seattle has never had that sort of divide.

    2. The 174/124 and 358 both serve areas with a high concentration of temporary housing and riders who are down and out. I am thinking of motels along north Aurora and International Blvd, lots of people in transition. The route 7 is another thing entirely. I have always felt the 7 was run by teenagers. All three seem to have a lot of drug activity in the areas they serve. It seems like people who don’t have something to do are more inclined to violence.
      The most peaceful routes, in my experience, are commuter routes. The kind that express from transit centers into town, like the 177. Folks who are on their way to or from work tend to avoid physical confrontation.

    3. The 7 and 106 have problems because they go through gangland. The 358 and 124/174 are the links to Snohomish County and Pierce County respectively. So a lot of poor and more violence-prone people have destinations all along the line.

      The 358 is surprising: many of the riders don’t look/behave like most people in north Seattle. Are they all going to Aurora Village or some other place? No, they trickle off one by one all along the line. My conclusion is they live in north Seattle but there are so few of them that the aren’t noticeable outside the bus. But they’re noticeable on the bus because richer people are more likely to drive.

    4. I’ve seen plenty of conflict/fare evasion/violence/assaut on the 44 and the 48 North of the Ship Canal…

  12. The last two times that I was fare-checked on Link, the Securitas folks found riders without fares and let them off with only a verbal warning. They did not take their IDs or give a written warning. Link has been running for 7 months. It is time to take fare checking seriously – same as the comments above about the small stuff.

    I have also noticed onmy last two Link rides (no fare checkers) some riders who were somewhat intimidating, appearing to be high, feet on seats, mouthing off. I think it’s important that we maintain an environment that feels safe on Link, and the Securitas folks need to be enforcing fares and other rules.

    1. I got off at Rainier Beach station along with four other people around 7pm last week, and I think I was the only one who tapped out.

  13. Maybe what Seattle needs is a couple of Bernie Goetz incidents in which armed citizens/drivers fight back against the thugs? I’m surprised it’s taken 50 comments for anyone to mention self defense!

      1. It’s not riders’ responsibility to police Metro buses! It’s- you know- the Transit Police’s responsibility.

      2. So this woman should have just waited for the transit police and let her family be attacked? When seconds count, the police are minutes away.

        Dec 1 2009 – A woman who shot a man in the chest in downtown Seattle in April was acting in self-defense and won’t be charged with a crime, King County prosecutors said Tuesday.

        The 26-year-old man was shot in the chest but rushed to Harborview Medical Center and survived his wounds.

        The shooting took place after a bump on a Metro bus escalated into angry words, obscene gestures, and, finally, the man charging the woman even though she showed she had a gun.

        Prosecutors said in the statement that that Sara Brereton, 31, “acted in defense of herself, her children and her partner” by using “her legally licensed handgun.”

  14. To answer your question, Subway, we’ve been discussing defending not only ourselves but our passengers from the beginning of this posting. It’s just that the more you know about firearms, and buses, the less use you can imagine for them aboard a transit coach for the defense of anybody. Especially in the hands of people who aren’t police.

    About twenty years ago, I was northbound on Rainier Avenue at the wheel of a 40′ Flyer trolleybus, around ten on Saturday night. There were about a dozen passengers aboard: maybe six adults, all sitting ahead of the rear door, and a half dozen or so young people who’d just boarded together. One boy of about sixteen was carrying what looked like the leg of a small wood chair.

    There had been sufficient violence in that area, chiefly involving high-school age people, that Metro had finally decided to add some serious policing to the Route 7. At Gennessee St., just north of Columbia City, the coordinator called me.

    “Just to let you know,” she told me, “the police have been watching those kids who just got on your bus, and there’s a patrol car following you. Just keep me briefed on the situation.”

    At the next stop, three men waved to me. I pulled over, and they boarded- small, thin, wiry men, no coats on a miserably cold, rainy November night, and their workpants and T-shirts were torn to shreds. All had major cuts and bruises.

    “Senor, may we have a ride?” one of them asked. “We don’t have any money.” Leaving them outdoors in those clothes would have been negligent homicide, and besides, I couldn’t imagine any trouble out of them in their visible condition.

    I shut doors and continued north. A second later, I looked in the passenger mirror, and saw something that reminded me of one of those old Saturday morning cartoons out of the ‘thirties, with everybody back of the rear door rolling around the screen like Popeye the Sailor and Bluto in a bar fight.

    Evidently my three new passengers had immediately gone back to finish their night’s previous business with my rear-seat passengers.

    Mindful of the police car coming up, I pulled the bus over at Rainier and Andover, giving the coordinator location and situation as I rolled in. I opened both doors, turned in my seat, and told the uninvolved passengers police would be there shortly, and they were welcome to come forward in the meantime.

    None of them moved. They didn’t seem scared, just tired and disgusted.

    I stayed on the radio- reception was bad that night, and the coordinator was especially concerned that the police know if any weapons had appeared. I told her about the furniture-leg.

    When I looked up from my radio conversation, a tall man of about thirty-five in dark civilian clothes was standing in the aisle beside my seat. I asked him: “Are you a police officer?”

    He didn’t answer me, but started shouting up the aisle as he raised a revolver that could have classed as artillery, probably forty-four magnum and not snub-nosed. The condition of the weapon didn’t inspire confidence in the gun-owner- blueing worn off the steel, the grip wrapped in black electric tape.

    “Are you a police officer, yes or no?” I persisted.

    His answer: “No, but I’ve got a permit to carry this. I know what’s going on here. I read the papers!”

    I also knew that armed police expecting trouble were due to arrive momentarily, and I had to consider what could happen to somebody behind a steering wheel a foot from the gunman when he saw several police officers who looked just like everybody else in Rainier Valley running toward him in regular neighborhood clothes.

    I had some serious transmission to accomplish over a radio full of static.

    Luckily, the people fighting at the back of the bus didn’t even notice either him or his revolver. There were a half dozen innocent people, including at least one woman, between he back of the coach and the front of that barrel. I knew somebody back there had a chair-leg, but no proof that was all they had.

    Nobody in the fight paid the man or his licensed firearm any attention. But one of the midcoach passengers, a man in denim work clothes of about forty, suddenly woke up- he’d had a lot to drink. He got out of his seat, stuck out is chin, and advanced right into the barrel of the gun.

    “You pull that thing on me, you better be ready to use it!”

    One more thing to tell the coordinator to tell the police over a very bad line.

    In the end, it was everybody’s lucky night. The fight went rolling and tumbling out the back door into a large parking lot. The man with the revolver decided nobody on the bus was interested in being protected, and got off the bus and went back toward his taxi. Last I saw of him, a plainclothesman was searching him for other weapons.

    As soon as the other police got the ragged men off the pavement where they were surrounded and being kicked by their opponents, by way of gratitude the three men attacked the police. As the plainclothesmen dragged them past the door of my bus in handcuffs, one of them shouted to me:

    “You see?! You Americans always stick together!”

    From the kids’ arrival on board to the police car’s departure, probably five minutes had passed. On TV it would have made a good comic relief scene in an episode of CSI Seattle- if they ever get tired of Vegas, Miami, and New York.

    But as an argument for civilian firearms aboard transit, it’s either a dud or a misfire, whichever is less effective. The least bad thing that almost happened was that one working man could have killed another one for no reason whatever.

    On TV, when you pull a gun, everybody does what you tell them. The guy in denim might have had one too many, but he put the real truth into one sentence. The cab-driver was nowhere near ready to shoot anybody. He just thought showing the gun would put him in charge- script always says so. But real life is improv.

    The only people on-screen that night that belonged having firearms took care of the situation with their badges, their handcuffs, and their bare hands. Have I answered your question?

    Mark Dublin

    1. Thanks,Mike, but of all the law-abiding people involved in that incident, police, passengers, and cabdriver included, I was the only one getting decent pay and benefits for being there.

      Ten years before I joined Metro, I drove a cab in Detroit for a couple of years, at the time when Detroit had just pitched over into its plunge into its eventual fate of Hurricane Katrina without the water. I must have been crazier than the hero of that movie.

      The cabdriver had plenty of reason to want that sidearm in his own workplace- though it probably wouldn’t have done him any more good than it would have been done me the night he tried to help me. Most murdered cabdrivers get shot in the back of the head. At the end of a twelve hour ill-paid shift with no health coverage.

      Those guys need to belong to ATU Local 587- wages, benefits, work rules protection, and transit police protection included.

      What’s the whole answer? Like I said, that one needs another posting. But in a nutshell: in 1950, city life in Germany looked a lot like Detroit’s does now. Same with at least parts of many other US cities, including our country’s capital.

      In the eighties, so did Pittsburgh, before the rubble of this country’s steelmills was clearead away. There weren’t any corpses in the wreckage of those mills, or the car plants in similar condition in Detroit. But generations jobs lay buried under all that rust and broken bricks.

      If people like the fathers of the problem kids on my bus that night could have
      kept those jobs- and remember, non-white people were just barely starting to be allowed into those jobs when they vanished- then people like those kids who jumped the 124 driver might have believed they had a place in the respectable world.

      Twenty years after the airforce leveled those enemy cities, a massive infusion of US money and attention saw to it they were bebuilt to full modern prosperity, and Axis countries were all US allies. Forty-three years after Detroit started to collapse the place is still in ruins.

      We know how to turn our societie’s enemies into friends- there’s a new book by Richard Reeves about the Berlin Airlift, and there are libraries-full on the Marshall Plan. That’s how you make buses, cabs, and cities stop being hostile territory.

      Mark Dublin

  15. There is violence on the bus because it is tolerated. If the riders stand up for to this it will stop. I am not saying you should fight off a bunch of thugs I am saying call 911 right away. If one or two punks are attacking a driver and there are more people on the bus than punks the riders should do something.

    1. I’m kinda with “RennDawg” on this. No, I don’t expect passengers to put themselves in harm’s way by breaking up a fight or something… but it seems like folks can’t even bring themselves to ask a fellow passenger to talk a little more quietly on the phone or to move down the aisle because more passengers are getting on up front. Everyone just seems to stare blankly at each other or pretend that their headphones have blocked out the world around them.

      1. You last two gentlemen are onto something. People really should be in the habit of standing up for other people’s rights. And civilization really is about other people’s rights- I think the Founding Fathers’ generation understood individual rights, especially the inalienable ones, in that context.

        One tactic, however, both to make your action effective, and for real self-defense: always start with a smile and a courteous request. And the more serious the problem, the more important this approach.

        On the Route 7 in the days I mentioned, I always addressed my young passengers individually as sir and ma’am, or “miss”, and collectively over the PA as “ladies and gentlemen.” Especially immediately before and after unobtrusively calling for the police.

        Remember, manners were originally invented by tribal warlords in lawless places- so they wouldn’t have to kill each other every time they met, but could honorably put off the duel until they’d killed somebody with greater priority that particular day.

        Thanks for these last two answers.

        Mark Dublin

  16. Given the article today about the attack in the bus tunnel in the early evening (7:15pm) Sound Transit needs to rethink its policies and spending on “security”. It blows my mind that the “security” team stood by while a girl was beaten senseless. It doesn’t matter to me whether she was part of a gang, knew the perps or otherwise. It shouldn’t happen anywhere in a civil city.

    I suggest hiring more Sound Transit police. How to pay for it? Enforce the fares vigorously. Take a look at DART (Dallas’) efforts. About $1.1M in fare evasion fines works out to about 24 enforcement officers ($30K *1.5 gross up for benefits). What really grabs one’s eye is the dramatic drop in removals from transit – 37K to about 8K per year. It appears fare enforcement is helping in a big way!

    1. First paragraph is right, certainly about rethinking security spending. Especially assigning work that should be- and used to be- done by Seattle police officers- to companies who usually guard malls from shoplifters. And charge accordingly.

      Fare enforcement? Remember, nobody is required to pay a fare to go into a Tunnel station, or even to be on the boarding platform. However, one fare-related measure could have relocated the attack away from the track, if not prevented it.

      Fare-collection personnel, equipment, and gates could be placed on Tunnel mezzanines, and platforms could become “proof of payment zones.” Additional benefit to doing this would be to increase operating speed for trains and buses alike.

      After seven every night, it can take up to five minutes to get a bus out of a Tunnel station while everybody pays their fare at the farebox. A delayed bus also means a late train.

      So forward that to your King County Councilman, the County Exec, and the Sound Transit Board. Civil or not, transit can’t let this happen to people, especially in its own showpiece station.

      Thanks for comment.

      Mark Dublin

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