On Thursday, King County Metro operator Samina Hameed passed away after contracting COVID-19. She had driven for Metro since 2017. Her husband is also a Metro operator.

Hameed is the first Metro employee to succumb to the virus.

STB wishes to express our deepest condolences to the family.

She joins Scott Ryan, a Community Transit operator, and Esther Bryant-Kyles, a Washington State Ferries employee, among the transit workers claimed by the virus.

An open letter from concerned Metro operators was sent to the King County Council on April 7, nine days before Hameed’s passing. Metro responded to the letter on April 8.

38 Replies to “RIP, Samina Hameed”

  1. I think all bus drivers should demand a shut down of transit until each one of them has the PPE they need to do their job. No N95 mask, no buses!

    1. This goes back to the general problem of a shortage of masks. If bus drivers get them, that means there would have to be nurses and doctors somewhere that don’t.

      Short of shutting down the entire transit system until the Trump administration gets its act together and Metro has more masks, I’m not sure what can be done.

      If the transit system were to be totally suspended for a few months, would it possible to implement some kind of subsidized car leases, targeted only at low-income essential workers, and only for the duration of the crisis?

      1. No nurses either! No cops, no fire fighters!

        Seriously though, you can use the exact same logic when it comes to various aspects of society. Hospitals and nursing homes are not testing every day. This puts the staff and patients at great risk. Yet they are still open, because they have to be open. Same with the buses — they aren’t open because some rich guy decided he wanted a fancy watch (still available on Amazon, at great risk to those unfortunate enough to work there). The buses are running because they are essential.

    2. Exactly, it’s unethical and immoral to expect any employee to work during a pandemic without providing them protection. There are some truly horrible people in this comment section who want transit to be a place for the homeless to hang out and sleep. Drivers should definitely not show up to work as long as the health of passengers and employees are ignored.

      1. Who are those who “want transit to be a place for the homeless to hang out and sleep”?

        Is that the same issue as homeless people hanging out in libraries? Nobody is saying we should have libraries so that homeless people can use it as a quasi-shelter. Libraries are for people to get information and check out books. The homeless are there because they have a right to be there: the only way to get rid of them would be to ban them. Then they would lose access to information and books, which some of them do in fact use, and which are supposed to be for everybody in society, not just housed people.

        This is focusing on the wrong issue anyway. We should spend our effort building housing for everybody that they can afford; then there wouldn’t be people loitering in libraries and sleeping on buses.

      2. They’re referring to me, since I disagree with their position that the homeless should be banned from transit at this moment (maybe forever, you’d have to ask them).

        I wish the homeless had another place to sleep. I’ve even designed and promoted low cost microshelters as a stop gap measure while more affordable housing and shelter buildings are built. I personally spoke with individuals from The Gates Foundation and Murray Administration about getting microshelters built. Tried to get the UW to design better as an engineering degree project. None of them were interested. I doubt Durkan would even grant such an idea an audience, or I’d go to her, too.

        That’s why I support allowing the homeless to sleep on busses, even during this quarantine. Nobody cares about giving them any alternative today. It’s always a pie in the sky “If we could just build more affordable housing” pipe dream of theorycrafting. By the time the most ambitious affordable housing programs could cut through the massive Section 8 and disabled backlogs (25,000 signed up for the last SHA lottery for only 2,000 positions in line) thousands of homeless people will die. That’s not a solution. That’s an extermination by negligence. If sleeping on busses saves just one of those people, it is worth it in my book.

      3. “It’s always a pie in the sky “If we could just build more affordable housing” pipe dream”

        The only thing pipedreamish about it is the leaders’ unwillingness to do it, the public not demanding it, and the federal government’s lack of support. (It’s the one that has a Federal Reserve and could set up a Marshall Plan and change federal laws.) That doesn’t negate the necessity of the task, and it’s the only solution. If we have universal housing people will be housed and a lot of other social problems will become minor or disappear. If we don’t have universal housing people will live outside or in shelters and we’ll have all the costly problems we have now. Unless you’re one of those conservatives who thinks we should run them out of town or make it illegal to be homeless. But running them out of town just dumps the problem on another city or makes them die in the woods, and keeping them in jail costs a lot of money too. So the only solution is housing.

        And it should be decent, 21st-century housing. Tiny/microhousing can be part of the solution but it should be voluntary or temporary: we shouldn’t force people into houses we wouldn’t be willing to live in. That’s not what Vienna does or other cities that have universal housing, and it’s not what Seattle did fifty years ago. And tiny houses don’t scale. Where would you put 150,000 tiny houses in Seattle, and how much space would they take? You need multistory, multifamily buildings, which do scale.

        And the leaders don’t need to solve all of it 100% this year. First they should make a commitment to do it, and outline the first steps, and do them. That first commitment is what’s missing. Don’t say 10,000 units per year for ten years is enough when it’s woefully inadequate. As you said, there are 25,000 households on the SHA waiting list, and that doesn’t count those who didn’t apply because they knew they didn’t have a chance or didn’t know about the program or were displaced to the suburbs. And explore things like a land tax, upzining, and supporting innovative ownership/construction models,. And if it requires legislative or constitutional changes, tell the state hard about it, put it in your platform if you’re running for governor, and coordinate with other cities to give a unified voice on this.

      4. I agree that affordable housing is the only way out of the homelessness crisis. But putting the blame on leaders is unproductive if there is no alternative leader that supports what we need. If no truly pro-housing candidate gets past the primary or even shows up to the primary, we cannot just throw up our hands and say “Oh well.”. That doesn’t stop people from dying.

        I’m not talking about microhousing either. That doesn’t scale to the size of our problem. I’m talking 7 foot by 4 foot wide corrugated plastic temporary microshelters. Material costs of under 150 dollars retail. I’m talking about getting everybody off the streets and into something to buy us time, since we can’t just solve 100% this year. It is basic triage. Slow the hemorrhaging to keep the patient alive.

        Admittedly, this has gone a little off topic from people sleeping on busses. I wouldn’t think less of STB if our conversation got OT bombed.

      5. Maybe the feds should stop seizing medical supplies and turning them over to companies their cronies control to sell at vastly inflated prices then.

      6. The basic disagreement is over helping vs enabling. A free hotel room with free drugs is enabling. Telling people they will be humanly housed (detained) while they receive methadone treatment and remain unable to relapse until the critical period has been observed is helping (saving their life). Offering people a job, training and showing them the door if they don’t follow the rules is helping. Free housing, which will be treated with exactly the amount of respect it cost to obtain, is enabling. Dublin is on the mark when he calls for the funding and restoration of institutions like Western State. Growing up a few blocks from there I’d point out that originally it was largely a self sustaining farm. The Greatest Generation had the CCC; the Gen XYZ seems to think everything should just be free.

      7. The “greatest generation” had a federal government that was willing to invest in infrastructure and create employment when the private sector would not or could not do so. Generation XYZ has corrupt neoliberal crony capitalist government that won’t invest in infrastructure, won’t create public work jobs, won’t build low cost housing (unlike LBJ’s Great Society), and they’ve got stuck with uber expensive college and massive college debt that won’t allow them to save and spend to buy a home or a condo like the “greatest generation.”

      8. Forced detention is not helping, especially in this state. Outside of correctional facilities (prison, jail, etc.), most forms of even involuntary detention are not free. The detained get a bill before they are released. That just reinforces cycles of homelessness and poverty.

        Free drugs is enabling, yes. Free housing is basic humanity.

        My mother worked at Western State. Nothing humane ever happened there.

      9. Only a fraction of the homeless are drug addicts, and if you include all of the housing cost-burdened it’s probably only 1%. Talking about homelessness as if it’s a drug problem is missing the issue. Living paycheck to paycheck, having a huge medical bill, getting evicted, being unable to find a job, or mentally unable to hold a job, and all the other problems working-class people face every day in a society that treats them like shit, causes long-term stresses that can cause the addiction in the first place. Again, if we had universal housing and more housing security, there would be fewer drug addicts.

        The Greatest Generation got housing loans and college grants, but it was also in an environment where housing was affordable and not astronomically high, and tuition hadn’t quadrupled in twenty years.

    3. MIT found that the NYC subway was a major disseminator of the virus, one of the reasons it’s so bad over there:

      web.mit.edu/jeffrey/harris/HarrisJE_WP2_COVID19_NYC_13-Apr-2020.pdf

      Bus drivers are even more vulnerable because there’s no separation between them and riders.

      1. Any cross-spectrum agreement that web.mit.edu/jeffrey/harris/HarrisJE_WP2_COVID19_NYC_13-Apr-2020.pdf is in any way unbiased?

        Also, if the New York subways went down, a result desperately sought and advocated in certain policitcal quarters, any proof that COVID-15 can’t handle SOV cars, Uber, and Lyfft just fine from the little creatures’ point of view?

        Mark Dublin

    1. Putting Operator Samira Hameed square “On Topic” here, History’s deepest lesson is that revolutionary violence issues not from rebel weapons, but from long-defective authority’s desperate attempts to rescue its sorry self from the outrage of the loved-ones of the people its corrupt ineptitude has killed.

      Main point being, for a very long time, the desperately-needed Change has been long in beneficially irreversible progress. This afternoon’s favorite “marker” for me? Recalling that three years a go, the decades-feared SAT test quit requiring that applicants submit essays. Do wish for some examples of the lives saved in combat or in fire-fighting by correct choice among numerals.

      Whatever “hit” this year’s Graduating Class takes from COVID-15, they’ll never again need to lose a minute of sleep, let alone study-time, over an idiotic test with traceable roots to genocidally-inclined racism. SAT is GONE! With multiple-choice dragged wailing down the hole behind it.

      Bernie, are you really at Lake Washington Tech? What am I going to have to demand my local, State, and Federal representatives deliver to finally get my Precision Machining certificate? Hope I don’t have to do it all online-with my Dell Precision joining the dial telephone, my hp’s going to put me in Western State, accredited or not.

      Though best of all will be IT 612 to ST 574 to Sea-Tac LINK to UW (College, not Concert Hall) to ST? to Kirkland Transit Center to 136 to LWTC Parking Lot. Aging “E”-rca card in my left coat pocket ready to Tap ‘Til It Snaps!”

      Mark Dublin

  2. Brent, immediately if not sooner, I need somebody whose name starts with “Doctor” and whose specialty is epidemiology to tell me this:

    Between Wednesday March 11, when I boarded Intercity Transit Route 612 to attend a large transit-related event at El Centro de la Raza on Beacon Hill and right now…..

    Does Medicine have any way to know whether this morning’s allergy-like symptoms do not trace from the six-figure-salaried executive four and a half feet up the aisle of my LINK car fresh off his flight from Saudi Arabia?

    Or, and seriously Worse: What any Sound Transit participant at El Centro, or fellow multi-agency passenger, or fellow coffee-drinker could have picked up from me? But meantime, let’s start calling “Essentiality” by its name: Enforcement authority to decide who transit police get to permanently remove REGARDLESS OF BEHAVIOR.

    “For cause?” From my own Route 7 driving days, laxity has always come down to, as STB puts it, $$$$$$$$$$! Two weeks before I first took the route that became my favorite, badly-undertrained new driver took lifelong brain damage in a fifteen-to-one assault. His life was saved by three passing lady school-teachers who physically flung the criminals off both their victim and the bus. Thanks to combined Union and Community pressure, major lasting improvement.

    Since Intercity Tranit’s taken “point” position for future changes, good to check out their Essentiality-control starting last Monday:

    https://www.intercitytransit.com/news/intercity-transit-moves-advance-reservation-transit-service

    But if ridership for Seattle and attached systems is still too high to permit IT’s approach? Every ORCA card, Essentially change first letter to an “E”. How to “E”nforce, “F”loor’s open.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Thurston County doesn’t have the problem King County is facing yet still seems to be taking this more seriously. Wk 1 Thurston reported 4 cases (yes, numbers are weekly). Cases peaked Wk 4 at 31. Wk 6 (last full week reported) it’s down to 12. King County OTOH keeps reporting ~150 +/-50 new cases per day and about a dozen new deaths. Yes the case numbers are flat and it hasn’t totally overwhelmed the medical system. Although State wide we’re seeing improvement I’m not seeing any downward trend in King and with Boeing going back to work I don’t expect to.

  3. Give me a break with the virtue signaling and guilt tripping. Yes, her death is unfortunate, but in the context of a transit blog, the closure of the West Seattle Bridge is going to drive more conversation.

    1. All I’m doing is holding up a mirror to you people. Don’t blame me if you don’t like what you see.

    2. I’ll sleep well tonight.

      Not sure if the same can be said for you, though. Is that where you find the time to be the most prolific poster on this blog? Sleep deprivation is a risk factor, so you should be careful.

    3. There have been pages and pages of comments about what Metro should do operation-wise during the pandemic, recognizing the drivers who have been sick, and trying to minimize the risk to drivers. They’re just spread out over several articles.

  4. There’s nothing to converse about. It’s a memorial to a fallen transit operator. Drop the cutesy questions for once, this isn’t the place. Save it for another thread.

  5. It’s a shame that on top of being social workers during this crisis (reports I’ve heard is that there’s mostly homeless on the bus right now) they also don’t have good protective equipment. I know there’s a shortage but I hope Metro is busting a– to get it for them.

    1. “reports I’ve heard is that there’s mostly homeless on the bus right now”

      The question is whether that is true. That’s not what I’ve seen on the few buses I’ve taken (11, 131, 550), nor the many more buses I see through their windows downtown. What I see is most people making regular transit trips, such as going to a destination, wearing the clothing and carrying the things they’ll need at that destination, and getting on and off in the middle of the route rather than riding end to end. Even when I see possiby-homeless people, they’re usually going to the Salvation Army or some other place, not just riding. And the total number of people per bus I see is few: sometimes zero, one, two, five, or at most ten on the bus at a time. There have been reports from drivers of more “non-destinational” riders on late-night buses. That may be a specific problem. But when you hear “most overall riders are homeless” or “people aren’t maintaining social distancing”, the first thing to do is fact-check those because they seem to be rumors by people who don’t use transit and have no idea what it’s actually like.

      1. @Mike

        I said I heard. Anecdotal. I didn’t claim otherwise. I also didn’t say anything about whether this is good or bad.

        Your examples are also anecdotal based on your experiences. I doubt Metro has this data either. So not sure what the lecture is about.

    2. Brad, as on so many topics right now, there’s something that a giant amount of ruthless power has completely succeeded in forbidding any mention. I’m sorry this is the best I can do.

      Term “Boom” calls to mind the sound effect (and film footage) that took the “Hindenburg”. Incidentally not sabotage but airship-maintenance incompetence. Mistaken gap between two pieces of flammably coated cloth flashed a static spark through a correctly- released blast of hydrogen as she touched down in a thunderstorm.

      Been awhile since anybody’s had the guts to use “Union Free” in a cheer. Itself too often echoed by workers who think that if their billionaire bosses weren’t impoverished by union dues, their own three generations of college loan debt would go away. Filthiest Untruth in Advertising is “Payday Loan.” For how many of us is that not the same thing as our Pay(day) Check?

      Have read stats that for more than one Presidency, the average working person in our country has risked street-ward trajectory for unforeseen want of $400. Leaving out that kind of account’s interest and fees demand from the average Payday Lender.

      So here’s the most completely self-suppressed of our every Fact of Life. Unless we’ve got at least one ancestor whose shell was not either leather or hammered armor, we’re all born Homeless. And subject to all the other dangers and predations we build our institutions precisely to protect ourselves from.

      So discussion-pertinent or not each posting, right now our politics at all levels are not only on-topic, but maybe terminally flash-fused all the way through the, instant the ship finally “Grounds”.

      Mark Dublin

    3. It can simultaneously be true that (a) most of the riders right now are experiencing houselessness; and (b) there are fewer riders experiencing houselessness right now than before the pandemic. I haven’t been on the bus in a few weeks, so I don’t know how many riders there are left on my routes, much less whether they look houseless. I can see through the windows that ridership is way down, regardless.

  6. It’s certainly sad to read about a death from the virus. It’s not clear how the driver came into contact with the virus. Certainly having a job that exposes someone to lots of people carries a higher risk of contracting the virus. I appreciate their valiant service.

    We should rest a little easier that drivers have health care insurance provided — and that hopefully the best care available should have been offered. Union negotiations are pivotal in making that happen and that deserves appreciation.

    The same kind of affordable care isn’t available for many riders. Perhaps we should note the riders that have also passed — and be mindful that a sick rider who can’t get care can infect many more riders and drivers than they should.

  7. this is heartbreaking. as someone who still has to go in to work everyday, my deepest condolences.

  8. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/06/underlying-conditions/610261/

    Topicality-wise, debatable, but wish everybody’d copy-and-paste it for later. Easy read, stays on the point. Definitely non-Partisan.

    Universality wise, no rush about it. Like the great Neil Diamond would’ve put it, “Well except for the names and a few other changes…. the story’s the same one!”

    High school graduating class of 2020, pending service change and announcements (do sort your Sources), call it up online while you’re exercising your Essentiality -damn, I miss “Existentialism!”- and whether it’s 15, 40, or half-hour, your wait will be more enjoyable.

    Mark Dublin

  9. Re: Muscular Slack-Prevention: Personally-affordable hotel room with budget-friendly drugs and some other things he was too cheap to pay for and so took by force, cost Jeffrey Epstein his life. Outcome only discernible by what kind of animal he comes back as.

    Though like for at least one forward-thinking little cashless transit system, far from “free”, the bill for disposing of him doubtless went to taxpayers who’d rather not have left him lying around dead to poison his neighbor’s really expensive dogs.

    Around the world, I think our reputation as Americans includes an addiction to work whose chief characteristic is how unhappy it makes us. But as proved by the miserable failure of ATU Local 587’s only “Slowdown” thirty years ago, effort of throttling-back threw out all our backs out. If an American worker isn’t working ourselves to death…..we’re not lazy, WE’RE ON STRIKE!

    In old “German East” Africa, their victims had to admit that a least a German (or Dutch South African) brute would kick you, while an Englishman would order another African to do it. Or if you were Irish, yell for a Scot. The “Scots-Irish”, (read “Winter’s Bone” about the Ozarks, book, not movie!) by some accounts our largest white ethnicity, came here to let the Brits dispossess their own Irishmen for a change.

    Must-see movie: “Galapagos.” Two educated young German immigrants became literally mortal enemies because they both ruined their neighbor’s dream of a life free of the self-same caste of intellectual freeloaders that chased them out of continental Germany. Hard, dirty, and brutal translated as merely synonyms for God’s most worthwhile life.

    Finnland’s take on “tough” is the path that’ll leave us healthiest if we adopt it. Translates as: “Knock YOURSELVES out, but you’ll never hit me hard enough to make me stop draining that swamp after I get done moving all these rocks so I can load them single-handed on that truck.” Think they call it “Sisu.”

    Every US crew or detail I’ve ever been on, there’s always one participant preoccupied with making sure nobody else is being allowed to slack off. Fortunately, being Americans….it doesn’t take us long to find an easy way around them.

    Mark Dublin

Comments are closed.