Employee records dozens of homeless slumped in public rail system, the agency’s response is infuriating

A “shocking” video recently posted appeared to show dozens of homeless people using Seattle’s public transportation system as a shelter.

Seattle-based conservative talk show host Jason Rantz shared the video on Twitter Monday, noting that it was reportedly taken by a Sound Transit employee on May 2, at the Angle Lake station.

“A Sound Transit employee took a shocking video that shows approximately 30 homeless people using light rail as a homeless shelter. Why is this happening?” he tweeted.

“The unidentified employee walks the entire length of the light rail cars as homeless men and women are mostly slumped over, passed out. There appears to only be two paying customers on the light rail,” he reported.

Seattle is similar to many popular cities in the United States in that homelessness is a rising problem with no easy solution. Municipalities constantly try to strike a balance between appearing compassionate towards individuals who are struggling while at the same time keeping their city safe and attractive to tourists and newcomers.

A spokesperson from Sound Transit, Seattle’s public transportation agency, told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH: “While most riders during the day are having a safe and reliable experience, problems are acute at times of lower ridership and when support staffing is lower, such as early in the morning and later in the evening.”

Rantz noted that “It’s unclear when the homeless enter the light rail, but the earliest they run is 5:00am, and do not operate overnight. That means the homeless enter early in the morning, making an unpleasant — and unsanitary — morning commute.”

There are measures that have been put in place by Sound Transit to prevent these situations from happening.

“At the end of the line, our security vendor is supposed to walk through the train and ask all riders to exit. This interaction also serves as a check on the rider’s welfare, to ensure that they are responsive. The security vendor failed to perform this duty in this case,” the spokesperson said.

It’s not unreasonable to expect a security vendor to clear a straggler or two out of a subway car at the end of the day but one can only imagine the experience of a city employee tasked with forcibly removing dozens of homeless individuals from a rail car in the middle of the night. The individuals seen in the video are clearly not interested in leaving and some are even unresponsive, perhaps due to drug use, as is common in these situations.

King County Metro, another public transportation system, recently had an issue where there was an unresponsive passenger still on a bus at the end of a shift. The passenger ended up being pronounced dead on the scene, Rantz reported.

The city of Seattle is reportedly committed to solving this problem and the Sound Transit spokesperson affirmed this by saying: “We have several efforts underway to try and address the challenges that the agency is experiencing on Link. They focus on centering compassion while ensuring the transit environment is physically and psychologically safe for both riders and operators.”

According to Rantz, the city’s public transport system has attempted to partner with King County’s Department of Community and Human Services Behavioral Health and Recovery Division.

“The agency does not intend to use law enforcement, as the Board of Directors does not trust police officers to act without bias and feels the criminal justice system is beyond reform,” he noted.


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