15 Replies to “From the Archives: Bus Violence”

    1. Thanks for posting that, although having to watch a 30-second commercial for catfood before you can see a minute and 12 second video is weird.

  1. And you know this will scare off people here who otherwise can drive yet want to see public transit as a viable option. It will also mean when it’s time to vote for tax increases favoring public transit, the measures won’t pass. And when it comes to more rail or rapid transit projects, more NIMBYs will turn into BANANAs. All because of these stories about these violent kooks that apparently utilize our transit. This isn’t like New York City, where subway wackos are easily shrugged off as part of the scenery because transit is so prevalent and using a car is an extreme privilege.

    1. It makes me sympathetic to the local police departments who, besides corralling the real crooks, have to act as wards in an open air mental clinic.

      If we aren’t going to put mentally ill people in asylums, but let them wander the streets, then we will continue to get Newtons, and bus shootings. It’s as simple as that.

      1. Erk, how about social services and adequate gun control? Don’t lock people up: mitigate the motive and monitor the means.

        Also, +1 to what asdf says below.

      2. In a society with infinite resources, perhaps.

        But that’s not US any more….we’re in a state of triage.

  2. It’s important to put a tragedy like this in perspective with the dangers people face driving. Drivers can be shot from someone in another car just as easily as when they are on a bus, and drivers walking to their cars in a parking lot can be shot just as easily as passengers waiting at a bus stop.

    The fact that the shooting today was such big news is testament to how rare incidents like this actually are – a carjacking wouldn’t have made nearly as big of a headline.

    Ultimately, every form of transportation entails some amount of risk, but if you want to live your life, you have to accept it and not worry too much, while society as a whole does everything in their power to make that risk as small as humanly possible.

  3. Martin asked us to reflect on Mark Dublin’s essay from a few years ago. It was a good, thought-provoking essay. But I have a question about one thing he said. In speaking about if drivers should carry weapons or be shielded-off from the rest of the bus, he asks, “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.”

    Is judgement really better than a plexiglas shield in terms of preventing assaults on drivers? Yes, good judgement can reduce attacks, but I’ve never heard of a South Lake Union Trolley operator or LINK operator being assaulted by a passenger. And I would have to assume that the reason has everything to do with them having a partition between themselves and the passengers, and not their experience and judgement.

    1. A plexiglas shield may prevent some attacks on drivers, but is still a bad solution. I opposed them when I was a junior driver frequently assigned to security-problematic routes, and even in light of yesterday’s horrible events I still oppose them. Driver engagement with passengers can’t prevent random events like yesterday’s, but it can substantially reduce other security threats by reminding people that someone is paying attention. Plexiglas shields make driver engagement a lot harder, and reduce the driver’s ability to control the part of the bus outside the plexiglas shield. And, yes, driver skill, experience and judgment directly inform how a driver chooses to engage with passengers.

      1. I have no idea what it’s like to drive a bus, but I would think having a plastic shield between me and the right side of the coach would make driving much more difficult. Even with the best materials and anti-glare, you wouldn’t be able to see as well. I’d rather the driver concentrate on driving safely.

  4. As this seems to be yet another enforcement-related incident, is it time to talk about a proof-of-payment system, letting the drivers drive instead of playing the role of unarmed untrained police officers?

    ORCA both doors, and keep the fare box. Put in fairly high penalties for not paying, and add roaming (trained, armed) enforcement officers. Yes, this adds cost. But it could significantly speed up operations and add safety (not only for the drivers – having random armed enforcement on the bus can’t hurt).

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