Sound Transit Arrogance

Back from an extended vacation. Enough national-level ranting. Time to set upon some local nut burgers!

Here in the Seattle area we have a cluster &#@% a transit authority known as Sound Transit.  Sound Transit is years behind and billions over budget on what they have agreed to deliver.  Their arrogance has always shone through, but this is ridiculous (emphasis mine):

Sound Transit parked a new train next to Interstate 5 at Tukwila, where the public would see the agency’s progress toward next year’s grand opening of the light-rail system.

Trouble is, the site was also a prime showcase site for taggers.

The vandalism was reported to transit officials early today. The train is to be cleaned by Sunday, said spokeswoman Linda Robson.

It has been parked on an elevated guideway near the southbound freeway lanes — just north of exits to Southcenter and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. It’s a conspicuous place where 131,000 vehicles pass each weekday in the southbound direction alone.

A passer-by, Mike Muller of Tacoma, said he phoned Sound Transit several days ago to complain that the train looked like a prime target, and was assured the agency has 24-hour security. He worried that taxpayers would be stuck with a cleanup bill, he said.

But Sound Transit invested up front in paint-removal equipment and training, so its own crews will clean the damage at “minimal” cost, said Robson. “It’s one of the things you plan for when you operate an urban transit system.”

Dori Monson, a local talking head that the local libs here don’t like (surprise), unloaded:

Here’s what makes this story particularly outrageous: On June 19th, a listener to my show contacted Sound Transit and expressed concern that this train car could be vandalized. Here’s the e-mail that Mike Muller sent to Sound Transit nearly three weeks ago:

On 6/19/08 at 4:49 PM Mike Muller wrote:

I have noticed a new Sound Link Train sitting dead on the tracks near
S. 144th Street and I-5.
Curious this is sitting there at nite (12:45 AM) instead of being taken
back to the main ST building? Seen it there more than once. I have heard ST has the tunnel done and some testing being done, but leaving a train in that area at nite?

I would think vandalism could occur.

Do you have security on this train sitting there all nite?

Mike Muller

Here is the response Mike got from Sound Transit:
On 6/23/08 at 8:05 AM Doering, Carol wrote:

Thank you for your inquiry Mr. Muller. In response to your inquiry sent
Thursday, June 19th, please know that safeguards are in place to insure
that the light rail vehicle is secure while maintained at the present
site. Link Light rail is now in its testing phase and you will be
seeing more light rail cars on the track as testing progresses.

Our outreach staff is now scheduling briefings and will be present
throughout the community at fairs and festivals to educate the public
about light rail safety. Please let me know if you would like someone
from our staff to visit your community to learn more.

Carol A. Doering
Sound Transit

So here you have a citizen raising a legitimate concern about security of a public asset – and he was told “safeguards are in place to insure that the light rail vehicle is secure while maintained at the present site”. Two weeks later, the train is hit by taggers.

What were the safeguards? And if there were safeguards in place, why were vandals able to do thousands of dollars worth of damage? Was ST simply lying to a citizen whose concern obviously had great merit? I find it amazing that Mike was able to anticipate the results of ST’s stunt – but all of the six-figure salaried employees and elected officials who oversee the agency could not. But, what the heck, it’s just a few thousand more tax dollars – there’s plenty more where that came from.

According to one of the commenters, apparently the guard on duty had a ridiculous distance to traverse in order to inevitably hit the head.  That’s completely unconfirmed, but would fall inline with ST’s brilliant record of safeguarding not only taxpayer assets, but money, as well.

We’ll see how this plays out; not that I expect the local media to do much digging.  Public transit and those that work in it are holy, blameless creatures.

As much as I love public transit and improving on it, this particular transit authority needs to be replaced.  Taxpayers shouldn’t just lamely expect waste and $#!& to happen, they should demand excellence and accountability.  That means, when thing frack up, heads roll, just like they would in the REAL world.

Like that’s going to happen any decade soon.


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