Light Rail: Transporting the scum of Seattle since 2009
“There have been numerous studies that suggest that, uh, light rail makes it easier for some folks who are not always… welcome [ nervous laughter ] because of their personal intents uh, to, uh… it makes it easier to get here” – Joseph Rosmann of Build a better Bellevue interviewed on King 5 TV’s “Up Front”
This quote neatly encapsulates one of the more offensive and incoherent arguments I hear against light rail. According to Build a Better Bellevue, Sound Transit’s East Link will make it easier for miscreants, from the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is Seattle, to descend in hordes upon our pristine shores. Being a user of transit as well as a bus driver, I can authoritatively say that this line of thinking is complete bunk. Light rail trains have video cameras, are randomly patrolled by fare enforcement officers, and have a more noticeable security presence than most of the bus system. While not perfect, these features make Sound Transit’s trains a less cozy environment for those with less than honorable “personal intents”. Given the relative lack of visible security on our bus system, a bus is a much friendlier environment for those intent on carrying out ill deeds. It goes without saying that buses from Seattle already ply the roadways of Bellevue and can, even as I type this, bring those who would do evil deeds into your safe and quiet bedroom community.
As a bus driver, I do occasionally ferry patrons around who don’t pay their fare, are drunk, rowdy, or even seem intent on criminal activity. However the vast majority of passengers I transport are just normal folks trying to get where they are going; Work, school, the store, or the doctor’s office is the destination of choice for most – not a seedy location to score a dime-bag of heroin or steal a suburban Mom’s jewelry. To be clear, in the last 4 years of riding and/or driving buses virtually every day of the week, I have only come across one or two instances where I felt any real personal danger. Given that 30,797 people were killed in car accidents the US in 2009, driving to work is far more dangerous than risking contact with an axe murderer on the bus – And yes, there was one such murder. In 2008. In Canada. Given our current political environment, you’re probably more at risk going to your local grocery store. For the record, Jared Loughner arrived by car, not bus or light rail, to shoot 18 and kill 6.
To the BBB folks I say, can you stop with the FUD? There are plenty of pro-transit/BRT/HOV/Bike path/Vanpool arguments that could potentially address congestion and could gain traction with reasonable folks like myself. Sadly you seem more intent on sowing fear instead of truly “building a better Bellevue”. Frankly, reasonable people should be wondering about other claims your group has made. That said, I wholeheartedly agree with one thing that Mr Rosmann said: “it [light rail] makes it easier to get here”. Um, yeah… isn’t that the whole point?