Sound Transit’s Link Light Rail: A Rolling Homeless Shelter or a Rolling Drug Den?

 

Sound Transit is the Western Washington “light rail” project, for which people in a large area of the Puget Sound (much of it out of reach of the choo-choo train for decades) pay a property tax, a sales tax, and a car-registration tax every year.  The first leg of the train ran from downtown Seattle to Sea-Tac Airport, and that has been running now for a couple of years, with stations every couple of miles or so, I think (I pay zero attention, as I refuse to acknowledge that it exists).  Additional track has been laid to the north end of Seattle, with stops in the University District and what used to be the Northgate shopping center before it closed.  Construction is moving rapidly across Lake Washington to Microsoft and Google (i.e., Bellevue and Redmond).

There have been news stories in the past year describing equipment breakdowns (escalators not working, communication lines breaking and stopping trains); people getting hit by trains on surface streets, and the usual delays in construction.  The government response to the Covid pandemic greatly reduced the numbers of people riding all forms of public transportation (by design, to keep them from encountering strangers), and ridership is still about 40% of pre-pandemic numbers.  That has predictably led to budget shortfalls, and the agency has noted that with less money coming in, they can’t build as fast.  Now, since Sound Transit has declared fare-collection efforts to be racist, they have been easing up on fare enforcement, further reducing their available cash.

So today, on MyNorthwest.com, there are two stories by local radio hosts, about what is going on in the light rail cars.  First, KIRO host Dori Monson points to the Sound Transit Rolling Drug Den, emphasizing the drug use by several apparently-homeless individuals.  In his piece, he notes that the lack of fare-enforcement activity has led to the devolution of public transit into a mobile slum.

Next, KTTH host Jason Rantz has a piece on the Sound Transit Homeless Shelter, which overlaps with the drug denizens.  I looked at this article, and the video which was sent to Jason has a “not available” message on it, so maybe YouTube doesn’t want to public to see it.  Sound Transit, in their ballot measures which were both approved by slim margins, stressed the cleanliness, speed, and convenience of light rail, so people would abandon their cars and reduce traffic on city streets and freeways (which have always been horrible in Seattle due to its geographical situation between two big bodies of water).  With these two stories, it appears that light rail is not living up to its billing, and actually seems to be living farther and farther down.  But according to our two local radio personalities, Sound Transit apparently is ignoring the filth on its trains and doing little to solve either problem.

And we, the citizens, are paying through the nose for infrastructure that didn’t work as advertised, doesn’t go where we need to go, and is being ruined for everyone else by the portion of the population whom the local government entities appear to prefer over the law-abiding, tax-paying public.  Unfortunately, the people of Seattle rarely complain very loudly, since their complaints are usually ignored anyway.  It will be very interesting to see what happens to the trains that go across Lake Washington to the tech hubs in Bellevue — will the Microsofties object to the homeless addicts on their trains?  I’ll let you know what happens when those trains start running next year.  In the meantime, I intend to stay as far away from Sound Transit as possible.

And the answer to the question posed in the title?  Both.

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 10 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Pointing out that the transit system is a homeless shelter or a drug shooting gallery is just so racist. 

    On the other hand, if you could get all the homeless and drug addicts on the transit system, seal the doors unless more homeless druggies were admitted, and keep them moving, that might solve above-ground problems.

    • #1
  2. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Pointing out that the transit system is a homeless shelter or a drug shooting gallery is just so racist.

    On the other hand, if you could get all the homeless and drug addicts on the transit system, seal the doors unless more homeless druggies were admitted, and keep them moving, that might solve above-ground problems.

    And call it the Rain-Piercer?

    • #2
  3. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Government-funded programs that do not solve any problems are the best signs of grift. 

    • #3
  4. The Great Adventure Coolidge
    The Great Adventure
    @TGA

    The CATO Institute has done multiple   articles on “MAX”, the Portland metro area light rail system that many other mid-sized lefty cities cite as a model.   As the second article states, the last line added cost $1.5 billion and netted zero new riders.

    The biggest accomplishment of Max over the years has been to provide a conduit for criminal activity.  Since there are virtually zero consequences from jumping on without paying the fare, the criminal  class finds it convenient to explore new target environments.  As @rodin mentioned, great signs of grift.

    • #4
  5. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Misuse of public facilities by the mentally ill and the drug addicted has been a general problem for decades. Misplaced “compassion” for the mentally ill and the drug addicted has led government agencies to lose track of the primary purpose for which public infrastructure is built – whether parks, restrooms, roadways and walkways, transit facilities, libraries, or other public structures and places. Years ago I was able to watch a rapid improvement for a large public plaza in the county building complex in the county seat when a couple of county supervisors just noted that the county had spent millions of dollars on the plaza to provide a place for the public (and employees) to have a respite, not to provide a campground for a few homeless people. The supervisors declared that by letting a few homeless people take over the plaza, the county was preventing hundreds of people from using the plaza, and preventing the plaza from fulfilling the purpose for which it was designed and built. Determination by the government officials is needed to remember the primary purposes for which public facilities and other public infrastructure are built, and to ensure that the facilities and infrastructure remain available for those purposes. 

    • #5
  6. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Misuse of public facilities by the mentally ill and the drug addicted has been a general problem for decades. Misplaced “compassion” for the mentally ill and the drug addicted has led government agencies to lose track of the primary purpose for which public infrastructure is built – whether parks, restrooms, roadways and walkways, transit facilities, libraries, or other public structures and places. Years ago I was able to watch a rapid improvement for a large public plaza in the county building complex in the county seat when a couple of county supervisors just noted that the county had spent millions of dollars on the plaza to provide a place for the public (and employees) to have a respite, not to provide a campground for a few homeless people. The supervisors declared that by letting a few homeless people take over the plaza, the county was preventing hundreds of people from using the plaza, and preventing the plaza from fulfilling the purpose for which it was designed and built. Determination by the government officials is needed to remember the primary purposes for which public facilities and other public infrastructure are built, and to ensure that the facilities and infrastructure remain available for those purposes.

    And then a court decides that the homeless drug abusers have a “right” to be there, and maybe even to live/camp there, and it’s back to square one.

    • #6
  7. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Local authorities encourage this behavior in more ways than one. They will be placing a measure on the ballot this fall to decriminalize drug possession, to add to the decline in fare enforcement. Seattle already has a policy that if street people refuse shelter, which most do, they are left in place so the problem grows. The real sufferers are the ordinary citizens dealing with the resulting crime and filth in their neighborhoods. 

    • #7
  8. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Who ya gonna call? Transit employees who will risk injury, nausea, disease or liability? Cops who can’t arrest and charge?  

    When I was a kid, on cold nights, the DC police would round up anybody sleeping outside on a nominal vagrancy charge, take them to jail and release them in the morning without bothering to charge.  The ACLU put an end to that and got all vagrancy laws tossed so the homeless are free to die.

    When the DC Metro opened they were pretty intolerant of those trying to use it as a bedroom or bathroom. Now these non-commuters are pretty consistently there in small numbers.

     

    • #8
  9. J Ro Member
    J Ro
    @JRo

    RushBabe49:

    And the answer to the question posed in the title? Both.

    Well, at least trains are “green” so it’s delaying our arrival time at the climate change apocalypse.

    • #9
  10. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    J Ro (View Comment):

    RushBabe49:

    And the answer to the question posed in the title? Both.

    Well, at least trains are “green” so it’s delaying our arrival time at the climate change apocalypse.

    Be thankful for the homeless. They are our pre-Apocalyptic trial run. Of course that suggests that they should get less help than at present in order to be a good control group.

    • #10
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.