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.

109 Replies to “Security Response”

  1. I think the added security that comes with a proof of payment system is a hard to quantify but important advantage. I wonder if Metro did any riders survey before the A Lined opened. It would be interesting to see what how riders feel about it.

    1. In my experience, the greatest deterrence to bad behavior is having a uniformed person with a radio on the coach. Fare inspectors, police, security. Just the thought of ‘getting caught’ stops most violence.
      Notable exception were the two rent-a-cops at Westlake Stn, when the girl got jumped recently.

      1. Mike, as you said there is a big difference between having “security” that is only allowed to “watch and report”, and real security. I think security on transit can only effectively do so much but it never the less in an additional benefit of POP systems.

      2. @Beavis

        I don’t know for sure but I would expect link fare inspectors to do more to try to manage and defuse a situation if they came upon it than a driver who is obviously preoccupied with driving. The fare inspectors I would expect are also in direct communication with transit police so that kind of gets around some of the communication issues as well.

      3. The fare inspectors I would expect are also in direct communication with transit police

        If you mean their cell phones, then yes, they can dial 911 wherever there’s cell coverage. If there’s no coverage, they can grab their radio (which works in the the underground tunnel) and call dispatch (Link Control Center).

  2. I would like to see more discussion of these issues on STB. If you want more people to ride buses, you have to tackle these issues.

    1. THIS THIS THIS, a million times this!

      If we want to ever get white-collar professionals out of cars and into transit, this has to be dealt with. Urban youngsters might be comfortable riding these buses. Low income service workers are comfortable with it; they spend their shifts providing customer service to drunks off the street, and then go stand on a dark SODO street corner at half-past midnight waiting for the last #150 to take them home. And outside of a handful of commuter routes, these demographics are the core ridership of the system.

      Put a suburban professional on the 4, the 7, the 124, or the 358 for a couple of days, and they will never ride a bus again.

      1. @Mike and Lack:

        That’s for sure! Drivers should be focusing on driving the bus safely and there should be some sort of security system onboard so the riders will feel safe. And if a new rider comes on board and the first thing they experience is a bunch of punks fighting on a crowded bus, or some stinky drunk vomiting in the back of the bus, there’s no way they’ll ever ride the bus again.

        As for expecting other riders to get involved…I’ve got mixed feelings about it. I’m always surprised when people do get involved because they really are putting their own lives at risk. But then again, I’m also surprised when people don’t get involved since it is affecting them as well.

      2. I’m actually stunned at the number of choice riders on the 358 at commute times. Especially given the number of drunks, druggies, crazies, and people with poor hygiene that route has even at commute times.

        The 4 and the 7 never have bothered me, even late at night. During peak commute times the commuters seem to push a lot of the more colorful riders off those routes and mellow out those who remain.

        Even as a regular transit rider, I’m never entirely comfortable riding the 358. It also manages to be one of the few routes I’ve felt uncomfortable on even during commute hours.

      3. Chris,

        I ‘get’ to choose which route to take between #5 and #358. I almost always choose #5 no matter the time of day just because of the other riders. If I ultimately take the #358, it is because I just missed the #5 or it is so late that it actually comes before the #5. Even then, I sometimes will choose to wait for the #5 to come because it is always a more pleasant ride.

      4. I take the 358 because it’s faster than the 5. If I’m going to 85th or 100th or 130th, I don’t want to dilly-dally in Fremont.

  3. I was on a ST 522 from downtown on my way to Lake City a couple years ago. There was an incident that started at the last bus stop downtown before the bus got on the freeway. It continued on the bus, and the driver verbally warned one party that he would be asked to leave if he didn’t treat other passengers with respect. After we got on the freeway the two parties involved separated themselves on opposite ends of the bus. One party sitting in front of me called 911 while on the bus.

    By the time we got to Lake City (a few blocks short of the first stop) we had been completely surrounded by Seattle Police cars. One of the officers boarded the bus to maintain calm while we waited for ST transit police, who arrived a few minutes later. Since we were only a few blocks from my destination and it looked like the bus wasn’t going anywhere for a while, I deboarded and walked to my stop. Overall I was pretty impressed with the response. I do believe the bus driver was in contact with someone over the radio, but he basically kept driving the bus and didn’t involve himself in the incident.

  4. Good call on re-naming the article. While there’s good points on the convoluted way that security (local or MTP) responds to security issues, I’m not sure I’d encourage folks not to call 911. Rather, I’d encourage the 911 Operator to respond to issues onboard buses and trains as they would an incident at any fixed location – by dispatching police rather than this reach-around by phone business contacting Metro’s control center instead.

  5. . . .and don’t forget elimination of the Ride Free Area as a security measure. Much of the fare enforcement and supplemental security that occurs on Link happens in the DSTT – where buses are free but trains are not.

      1. I’ve seen them often, and they pulled 2 guys off a train and wrote them $140.00 tickets.

        On the other hand – haven’t seen a single fight onboard a train.

    1. +1 although fare enforcement is still possible on pay as you leave – Fare inspectors could simply ride up front, get off the bus, and wait for their prey. They could then reverse the process back into downtown. Or, they could just wait at busy stops such as Park & Rides.

      Shouldn’t be too difficult on routes with decent headways like the 550, 554, 545, etc… The point is to get more of them riding the buses along with workable procedures.

  6. I wish there was a way to text the cops. Sometimes it may not be safe to be seen or heard on the phone calling 911 if the driver can’t tell there is a problem on the bus. Or maybe even a twitter account that folks could use.

    1. Metro does have a twitter account, but I don’t think they will use it for this purpose. I have called 911 and I have called metro…niether call went well!

      It’s the old right hand doesn’t know OR CARE what the left hand is doing!

      I was CHASTISED by a CSR at Metro for not getting up, on a bus moving 55MPH mind you to go inform the driver of the problem – a problem that NEVER should have happened, since the two causing trouble were fighting as they boarded at my stop..the bus should NEVER have proceeded with these 2 idiots on board!

      Once I called a 2nd time after I got off the bus and got someone who would actually help I felt a bit better. I hoped by calling that Metro would remind the driver that he shouldn’t allow OBVILOUSLY DRUNK PEOPLE from getting on his bus – NO MATTER HOW LATE he already was!! Passenger safety should be number one on any drivers mind!!!! If not the driver needs to find another line of work!!!

      1. There are very few circumstances – including drunk passengers – where a driver is permitted to refuse boarding. It does happen, but the driver does so at their own peril and risk of discipline for doing so. Blaming the driver is bullshit, and extremely ignorant of you.

      2. “There are very few circumstances – including drunk passengers – where a driver is permitted to refuse boarding.”

        Have you ever heard of a driver being disciplined for refusing a ride? Ride refusal happens informally and you know it. Yes we’re supposed to call the Control Center and file an SIR. However, if you use good judgment in refusing a ride to somebody who could potentially cause a safety issue on board, I can’t imagine being disciplined for it. Yes you are taking a risk but if your concern is customer/personal safety, I’d say it’s a small risk.

      3. I had a drunk passenger who told everyone on the bus his war stories, ect. He was loud and annoying but not any kind of security threat. Several other passengers complained, including reporting to me that he had a bottle.

        As a driver there wasn’t much I could do. I asked him several times to keep his voice down which he did, for about 60 seconds. I walked back to ask if he had a bottle, but by the time I got back there the botttle was out of sight. I’m sure when I got behind the wheel the bottle was out again and in use.

        Point is that it’s public transit and that includes all the public including the drunks. At least he wasn’t driving drunk.

      4. @velobusdriver,

        Yes. I heard about a bus driver who was disciplined for refusing a ride to someone because they appeared intoxicated. Turns out they had cerebral palsy.

    2. Text a friend and ask them to call 911. When your friend first calls 911, they should inform the call reciever of the location of the incident–different areas are dispatched by different facilities, and your call always gets routed to the facility that serves you. For example, if you’re in Federal Way and you text your friend in Seattle, they’re going to get the Seattle PSAP and not Valleycom. Letting them know the location allows them to transfer your call to the correct PSAP without wasting any time. More details here.

      1. I also recommend programming the local 7-digit (OK, ten-digit with the extra area codes now) phone number of the police jurisdictions you frequent. That way you don’t depend on your in-phone GPS working (if you have one) to connect yourself to the police department you need.

        Obviously you’d need alot of numbers if your commute passes through alot of cities, and you need to know exactly where you are.

      2. @Erik what’s the point? If you’ve gotten the wrong dispatch center they transnsfer you. And many local PDs transfer you to 911 anyway (Seattle does).

    3. There have been a few times when I wished I could at least send a text message to say that I’m on bus number XXXX and that they might want to check in with the driver.

      1. Why would they want to check in with the driver? The driver is busy driving the bus. Why wouldn’t you tell them directly what is happening? If you are texting, then you already know and see more of what’s going on than the driver does. It’s not the driver’s job to shield you from the consequences of reporting an onboard security incident. Act like a grownup and report what you see directly.

      2. Take your comments a tone down Beavis. Faulting myself or other people for expecting Metro to cary some level of responsibility for what happens on a bus is ridiculous and adds nothing to this discussion.

        In both situations when I wish I could have texted I didn’t expect the driver to do anything, I simply wanted them to know it was happening. I could have walked up and told the driver but that would put both me and the driver in a bad situation and is sometimes impossible in a packed bus.

      3. Adam,

        I don’t need to take any tone down. As a bus driver (which you are not) I’m entitled to it. Saying that the driver needs to do “x” which they are not empowered to do and may otherwise be unable to or “find a new line of work” is the kind of comment that needs to be challenged, strongly and often because it’s complete nonsense.

        I don’t recall suggesting that “Metro” should take some responsibility for security – but I vociferously object to the idea that the drivers out there haven’t been taking enough, or are an appropriate object for the ignorant comments that tend to populate these threads throwing said responsibility at the drivers’ feet.

      4. d.p. and Beavis,

        This conversation is done. You are in clear violation of the comment policy.

    4. King County 911 ran ads on the bus about accidental 911 dialing. It kind of said you can’t text 911 yet, implying that it’d be possible soon. Nationwide, there have been plans in a few jurisdictions for 911 to be able to receive texts and multimedia messages.

  7. I wonder what the KCSO PSAP has at their dispatch consoles. I know Valleycom only has the 800 MHz consoles. KCSO used to be UHF, so I bet they ripped those consoles out when they cut over to the new trunked system.

    My point is, when Metro finally completes OBS/CCS the bus will be running on 700 MHz using a radio that can also do 800 MHz. Potentially, a dispatcher in the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO dispatches Metro and Sound Transit Police departments ) could “patch” these two together so that both the dispatcher and the responding officers could talk directly to the bus operator.

    Currently, Link trains run on the same 800 MHz system that all of the police and fire agencies use in King County. I know that Link trains cannot talk on the police/fire channels, but it’s possible that Metro/ST PD have the Link channels in their radios and could switch over as needed. However, most of the time the dispatcher would just “patch” the two channels together–it’s just a couple of clicks–but this would mean that the dispatcher would need to have the Link channel on their console. I don’t know if they do.

    Anyone follow that?

    1. WHY WOULD THERE HAVE TO BE A CONVERSATION WITH THE BUS DRIVER IN ORDER TO DISPATCH THE COPS??? As the article said – this is wasting time. If someone on board a bus calls 911 to say “Hey – this guy next to me has his pants around his ankles and is wanking away”, you don’t need to have someone call the bus driver – who probably can’t see what’s going on – to ask him or her if there is someone on their bus wanking away.

      Calls to 911 should be dispatched to buses in THE SAME WAY they are dispatched to a fixed location. If someone reports an armed robbery at the McDonald’s at 3rd and Pine – does the 911 Operator call to talk to the manager of the McDonald’s to say “Hey – do you guys have an armed robbery going on there?”

      1. So the dispatcher can say, “Hey, coach 2726, your last AVL checkin was 7 minutes ago and I showed you at 65th and 35th. Where are you now?”

      2. What if it’s dark? What if it’s a route that you’re not used to riding on (technically it’d be your responsibility to know where you’re at so that you will get off at the right stop, but you could be depending on the operator to properly make the ADA announcements).

        Furthermore, the operator could advise dispatch of the whereabouts/description of the suspect, if known. On an artic this would be difficult if not impossible, but on a 40 footer I’d imagine you’d have a decent shot.

      3. “If someone on board a bus calls 911 to say “Hey – this guy next to me has his pants around his ankles and is wanking away”,

        — if only! *That* would be harmless (imho). There is far more anti-social and dangerous behavior. Fights. Violence. Harassment. That’s what keeps folks who could take transit off of Metro.

      4. Yes, I’m sure that someone openly masuturbating in the seat next to them is viewed as “harmless”, and that sort of behavior would have no impact on someone’s feeling of safety and security. (rolls eyes)

  8. There is an atmosphere of lawlessness on many Metro routes and I blame Metro’s Police force’s police of not riding on buses. They’ve decided, wrongly in my opinion, that the best way for them to patrol the system behind the wheel of a car, responding to incidents as they occur. Instead, there needs to be a mixture of that way of patrolling and plain clothes officers riding on problem routes. Some will argue they already do ride on bus routes, but in terms of a percentage of their manpower hours, I’m guessing it’s only a fraction of one percent of the time they do this. I think a better mixture of time spent on buses, and behind the wheel of a patrol car, would go a long way in decreasing the atmosphere of lawlessness on some Metro routes.

    In a somewhat related case, I like this story about a man in Milwaukee being fined for swearing on the bus. That’s not the part I like, though, that a man was penalized for swearing on the bus. I like how there was an undercover police officer who was on the bus who escorted the man off the bus and wrote him a ticket. The bus system got a lot of free publicity when the story hit the news.

    At the bottom of the story, it explains why the sheriff started having deputies ride on buses. “Clarke began putting undercover deputies on county buses two years ago after several crimes against passengers and drivers.”


      1. Tim, because they’ve said that’s not how they want to allocate their police manpower. They feel it’s a better use of their time to patrol the system in cars, and not ride on buses.

      2. Sam,

        I don’t believe that they have said any such thing. If you have some evidene to the contrary – would love to see it.

      3. Have you ever read a story in the paper where Metro cops prevented crime? Wouldn’t Metro seek out that press?

        And by the same token, how do you know they ARE riding?

      4. As the definition of “deterrent” tends to mean that a crime did NOT occur because of the impact of law enforcement presence – how would you know what crimes were prevented as they didn’t actually occur?

        As to them being onboard, I can attest as a driver that I have had law enforcement in – and out – of uniform on board my bus. Some actually use Metro to commute to work. In several years however I have only seen one Metro Transit Police Officer in uniform who appeared to be “on the job” board my bus. While he was in uniform, he wore a black trenchcoat to partially cover it. We can tell who is or isn’t an officer by the ID they display. If an officer displays an ID while boarding inside the RFA, it’s pretty clear they’re on the job.

    1. Not that I’ve put much thought towards this, but one problem with placing an officer on a bus is that is one less officer who can response to problems elsewhere – they’re stuck on that bus.

      ST Police & Metro police probably have some kind of mutual aid agreement, so maybe if more officers were on buses, they could radio for help. But there might be some kind of priority system when it comes to mutual aid, and they might have to do some kind of billing for each response. The bottom line is the more enforcement you want, the more it is going to cost, which is tough during budget problems.

      1. ST Police & Metro police probably have some kind of mutual aid agreement

        Both STPD and MPD are comprised of King County Sheriffs. ST PD wears shirts with ST patches, MPD wears shirts with Metro patches. Each bills their respective agencies based on the amount of work they do.

        It’s REALLY easy to call for more King County Sheriffs. All the dispatcher has to do is click a couple of buttons (or a few more if they want to go into CAD and see who is available). Not sure if KCSO has the ability to talk on the other PDs talkgroups.

      2. one problem with placing an officer on a bus is that is one less officer who can response to problems elsewhere

        Not really. They should be getting on and off randomly so they’re essentially beat cops. Or, they could be bike cops which might work even better.

      3. @Bernie – First of all, the officers patrolling transit are ‘separate’ from SPD or KCS beat cops. I do understand most of the ST/Metro cops are KCS, but ST/Metro pays for the service hours. So ST or Metro probably aren’t interested in paying for beat cops along Rainier. They need their officers to be able to respond to incidents on transit (trains, buses, stations/stops) and to do that they can’t have all their officers patrolling on random bus routes.

        I think it is a good idea to place officers (undercover or not) on routes with a history of security problems, and making routine foot patrols at major stations, but you’d have to allocate them wisely, or do occasional saturation-type patrols.

      4. I see the public space on a bus the same as a sidewalk. I understand we need officers in cars but there’s a school of thought that officers interacting and more publicly visible do more to prevent crime (as opposed to respond to crime). SPD has had success with this approach as it allows people in the neighborhood to know the officers which makes it much more likely they will share information as they develop a level of trust.

      5. First of all, the officers patrolling transit are ‘separate’ from SPD or KCS beat cops. I do understand most of the ST/Metro cops are KCS, but ST/Metro pays for the service hours. So ST or Metro probably aren’t interested in paying for beat cops along Rainier.

        KCM Transit police do patrol areas around stops for things like jaywalking, people sleeping in bus shelters, etc. There is no reason something like this couldn’t work except for the issue of resources.

      6. there’s a school of thought that officers interacting and more publicly visible do more to prevent crime

        The Seattle PD Mounted Patrol has “proven successful in patrolling business districts and neighborhoods, including high crime areas.

        “They are highly visible, approachable and draw the young and old alike to an open conversation with officers while discouraging criminal acts through their presence.” —Source

      1. Multipath, broken equipment, long voice calls, signal jammers, failed equipment, system maintenance can all make the coach update less frequently than that.

        I picked a random number and came up with 7. Even data that is four minutes old can be stale, and actually asking the coach operator where they are is better than guessing.

      2. AVL only polls buses when we drive by one of the beacons. If we’re not moving, or a particular beacon is down, they won’t know where we are.

        No, the AVL polls every coach approximately 90 seconds. The AVL system has no idea when a beacon has been passed by anything–the beacons are battery operated and not connected to anything. If it’s been a while since the coach has passed a beacon (such as traveling a long distance on the freeway), the coach simply responds with “it’s been 6,987 feet since I last passed beacon X”

  9. Speaking of convoluted policing, why do we have Metro Transit Police at all? In 2006 the P-I ran a series on the problems there have been with the Metro Transit Police, which used to be staffed with a mix of city cops and sheriffs but which has become almost entirely sheriffs. Doesn’t it make more sense to just have the local agency respond directly? What percentage of incidents on Metro actually cross jurisdictional lines, and would those cases really be that difficult to deal with?

    1. Whoever’s closest responds first. If a Transit PD unit isn’t nearby, a local cop will respond.

      What percentage of incidents on Metro actually cross jurisdictional lines

      Why does this matter? There is a common misconception that cops can only respond to incidents within their jurisdiction. That is a myth. Ask anyone that’s received a ticket from a cop outside their jurisdiction. Yes, it is legal fora Shoreline cop to write you a ticket in Des Moines. If a police officer witnesses a violation of the law, it is their duty to respond accordingly.

      1. I mention jurisdiction just because I assume that’s the main reason given for why we have transit police. Though local cops of course have the ability to police transit, they don’t, probably because they see transit as, well, transient, and not actually part of their beat. Brett above mentions SPD officers responding to a call in Lake City on an ST bus. They got on and maintained calm until ST Transit Police arrived. Why the hell did the SPD cops hand it off to ST Transit Police? The incident took place in Seattle, SPD was first to respond—SPD should handle the case themselves. The existence of a separate transit police force seems to have the effect of taking transit off of local police’s radar. Insofar as SPD considers buses to be Metro Transit Police’s turf, it seems to me that they’re less apt to respond to or patrol for crimes on buses. As if the second you step on a bus—even if that bus never leaves Seattle city limits—you’re magically transported to a land where SPD doesn’t exist.

      2. Though local cops of course have the ability to police transit, they don’t, [speculation]

        Or because the coach is in their jurisiction only for a short time before leaving. Take a look at this map. Each area (sector), such as U3 or U2, is the area that a patrol officer will be assigned to for a certain shift. Now tell me how many routes fall into just one of those sectors. The best they could do would be to get on for a few blocks and then get off. We’re not paying Seattle cops to patrol certain runs–we’re paying them to patrol department-defined sectors.

        I think you’re missing a few things:

        The Transit Police, through a variety of means, enforce the Metro Transit Code of Conduct along with local and state laws. Metro Transit Police, in their effort to protect both Metro operators and riders, patrol the Metro Transit system and its facilities by bus, on bike and by car.

        King County Metro Transit works with the Seattle Police Department and other police agencies throughout the Metro Transit system to insure public safety.


      3. The best they could do would be to get on for a few blocks and then get off.

        I don’t see any reason why beat cops can’t or shouldn’t be hopping on buses that travel through their sectors, even if only for a few blocks. As it is, cops never ride our buses at all. In 15 years of riding Metro I’ve never seen or heard of a Metro Transit Police officer getting on a bus and riding for any distance. The only problem I can imagine with having beat cops hop on & off buses in their sectors is if cops in certain sectors didn’t bother and if bad elements soon learned that anything goes in those sectors. But as it stands, anything goes in every sector, because no cops of any badge patrol buses with any frequency.

        The only thing I can figure that you’re implying that I’m “missing” is that that transit cops are familiar with the Code of Conduct as well as RCWs and SMCs, and beat cops might not know the Code of Conduct. The thing is, graffiti, vandalism, public intoxication, open containers, harassment—probably the vast majority of the problems on buses—are all illegal under RCWs. Cops don’t have to know shit about Metro’s code of conduct to arrest or cite folks for these things.

      4. Until Metro Police duties were contracted to the King County Sheriff’s office county-wide SPD provided Transit Police services within the City of Seattle. SPD officers used to regularly ride coaches in uniform. It was almost entirely downtown and in the tunnel at that, but they were there.

        On the other hand as others have pointed out you never see Metro Transit police on buses, even in the tunnel. At least with the ST police you occasionally will see them riding link along with ST and Metro security guards. In addition you have the uniformed fare inspectors on Link. This makes Link much better patrolled than buses and I believe creates a deterrent effect.

      5. In 15 years of riding Metro I’ve never seen or heard of a Metro Transit Police officer getting on a bus and riding for any distance.

        Transit Police wasn’t formed until 1999, so you would’ve been wasting your time looking for them prior to that.

        In addition you have the uniformed fare inspectors on Link.

        And on RapidRide.

  10. A possible solution is to outfit all buses with on board cameras which both digitally record and feed to a monitoring station. Anyone commiting a crime on the bus will be clearly recorded and easily identified. Not to mention the overwhelming evidence for court.
    The presence of working security cameras would clearly be a crime deterrent.

    1. There used to be a video of it, but apparently it got lost in the transition from metrokc.gov to kingcounty.gov…

      Metro already has cameras on many of its ~1,400 buses (I don’t know exactly how many) and some or all of these can transmit video wirelessly. The video is transmitted over WiFi, so it’s only a range of about 150 feet, but the Transit Police have receivers and can view the video while pulling up behind the coach.

      All coaches with cameras already have DVRs installed.

      It is very difficult and costly to stream cameras on a bus to a monitoring center. Figure there are at least 6 cameras per coach, and 1,200 coaches operating during peak periods and that’s a LOT of data to move wirelessly.

  11. I’m disinclined to get involved in any sort of dispute, regardless of location. I know this sounds terribly selfish, but I’m not risking my life to try to break up a fight I have nothing to do with. Intervention involves significant physical, financial, and reputational risks that are potentially ruinous.

    If I tackle an assailant who was beating on someone else and the assailant hits his head and is seriously injured, I’m going to get sued. Or, alternatively, I’m the one seriously injured. I can’t afford either outcome (if I could, I wouldn’t be riding the bus in the first place).

    1. 1. Ever heard of the Good Samaratin Law? (don’t think of the Seinfeld finale)
      2. What does being poor have to do with riding the bus? Have you noticed that even people living in million dollar homes ride the bus?

      1. 1. Does the Good Samaritan Law apply to intervening in crimes in progress? I understand how it works for rendering assistance to injured people, but what if I break up a fight and (allegedly) injure someone?

        2. I’m not trying to link low incomes and bus ridership generally, but in my case, it is true. If I had a great job and a lot of money, I’d buy a car and drive to work.

      2. Tim, will you please make a New Year’s resolution to stop arguing with reality.

        Metro has some of the worst rates of “elective” ridership of any major-city transit system. Outside of rush hours, those rates drop to near-zero.

        Million-dollar homeowners in Seattle do not, by and large, ride the bus.

      3. Tim, [ad hom]

        Metro has among the lowest rates of “elective” ridership of any major-city transit system. Outside of rush hour, those rates drop to near-zero.

        Those million-dollar homeowners are not, by and large, riding the bus.

      4. “Metro has among the lowest rates of “elective” ridership of any major-city transit system. Outside of rush hour, those rates drop to near-zero.”

        Citation please.

      5. Poverty rate (Seattle proper) = 11.8%
        Transit share (for commuting purposes, Seattle proper) = 19.5%
        Transit share (off-peak, Seattle proper) = 9-10%

      6. Pugetopolis has something like that seventh highest transit ridership in the country. There are a lot of choice riders living between N 55th and S Jackson; even one of the more popular routes can singlehandedly raise the statistic above “near-zero”.

      7. Our “7th-highest” numbers are still dramatically lower than numbers 1-6, all of which have real transit.

        That statistic, as mentioned, also reflects commute-period usage (19.5%, about 1/2 of which would be choice riders). Metro’s obsession with peak-oriented one-seat services certainly helps to push that number up… but it also means the distance between peak and off-peak choice ridership numbers is much longer than elsewhere. (Meaning 7th-highest number considerably misleads.)

        Meanwhile, you’re overestimating the economic uniformity of that swath of mid-to-North Seattle. I’ve lived in Queen Anne before, Seattle’s archetype of urban swank. Trust me that the riders on its bus routes, outside of peak hours, are not choice.

      8. d.p.
        I’ll concede commute hours have the highest proportion of choice riders. However there are many routes with plenty of choice riders mid-day, evenings, and weekends.

        You really have to look at Metro’s numbers route-by-route and time period by time period. The poor performing routes pull down the performance of the system in aggregate.

    2. d.p.
      Where do you get your numbers? The transit mode share for Downtown and UW commuters is fairly high compared to a majority of cities in the US. I think it is safe to say a majority of commuters are choice riders. Even for non-commute trips the elective ridership isn’t bad within certain parts of the system. The best predictor of both overall ridership and choice riders is population and employment density. If Metro was simply those who had no option other than transit ridership would be much lower than it is and many of the core routes wouldn’t be crowded all day long.

  12. “Near zero”? Really?

    How small a number is “near zero” in your book?

    And what does any of this [ad hom] have to do with transit security?

    1. Poverty rate (Seattle proper) = 11.8%
      Transit share (for commuting purposes, Seattle proper) = 19.5%
      Transit share (off-peak, Seattle proper) = 9-10%

      Beavis, there is almost no one in this city who wouldn’t love to abandon Metro. Each year, one would waste hundreds fewer hours getting around, not to mention the savings in stress and sanity.


      1. Beavis, there is almost no one in this city who wouldn’t love to abandon Metro. Each year, one would waste hundreds fewer hours getting around, not to mention the savings in stress and sanity.

        While I think there are many ways Metro and ST could do a better job than they do right now, even within the constraints of the current budget, it doesn’t mean I’m about to start driving everywhere. Driving carries its own stress, particularly during any sort of congestion. When driving I don’t have the option to do something else like read STB or a book. I have to deal with traffic and other drivers which carries its own cost in stress and sanity. Then there is the problem of finding and paying for a place to park the damn thing when I get where I’m going.

        In fact I don’t currently own a motor vehicle. Even with taxi rides and car rentals for those trips where bicycle or transit won’t cut it I come out ahead financially. I’m not tying capital up in a vehicle. I don’t pay for insurance, gas, maintenance, or parking.

  13. Here’s a thought: The county police mostly just have jurisdiction in unincorporated areas, and county property.

    The county sales tax proposal got trounced, in part, because few wanted to pay the county to build more jails (especially out of sales tax), and because the county police are mostly a benefit for unincorporated areas. County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer has even been puzzling aloud about why Seattle voters wouldn’t vote for the added benefit of building more jails in Seattle and getting more jobs that way.

    If the county council were to use this tax source to beef up security on the buses (county property), in alignment with the introduction of universal pay-at-all-doors or off-board payment where easily set up (e.g. downtown and P&R stops), the county might get the voters to give it the revenue increase (sales tax, unfortunately, I know) that it couldn’t figure out why so few wanted to vote for it, the police would get their ranks expansion, Metro would get their security increase without having to get further legislative authorization from the state for transit sales tax, Metro would be able to cut a huge number of service hours due to the introduction of universal pay-at-all-doors without actually cutting service (especially if it gets around to eliminating paper transfers), ridership and revenue would go up, etc.

    Many birds would be fed with one proverbial seed. Okay, I’d actually prefer it be property tax, but sales tax is okay with me if it actually provides services for the masses (security presence on the buses) rather than property protection mostly for the propertied classes and more jail cells for the poor and dark-skinned.

    Councilmember von Reichbauer, are you taking notes?

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