Local authorities in the city of Seattle have voiced their concerns that the city’s public transit system is too dangerous for the public to use, due to widespread drug use, violent behavior from criminals and vagrants, and other factors.
The Daily Caller reports that 398 security incident reports were filed by King County Metro Transit workers in the year 2021, a significant jump from just 78 in 2020 and 44 in 2019. Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587, the union which represents over 4,000 transit workers in King County, called for stronger law enforcement efforts to remove dangerous individuals from the Metro.
In response, the city has announced plans to implement a “Safety, Security, and Fare Enforcement Initiative” later this month. The initiative will allegedly include the input of over 8,000 people. However, the King County website emphasizes that this new plan will not be focused so much on law enforcement, but instead will primarily be about “anti-racism,” describing the plan as “a necessary step on its journey to becoming an anti-racist mobility agency.”
Following the accidental fentanyl overdose death of George Floyd in May of 2020, Seattle’s Metro Transit Authority (MTA) has been forbidden from taking direct action against criminals and other problematic individuals on the metro, with zero authority to arrest or remove people who are harassing other travelers.
The drug use on the Metro, particularly smoking of such drugs as meth, has led to problems for the drivers. The union reports that in 2021, at least six operators had to stop during their shifts due to the intensity of smoke within their cars from drug users, especially in cars with windows that do not open; another 14 reported other symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and trouble breathing.