Metro likely going ahead with removing 2 Junction shelters, Southwest District Council told

From last night’s Southwest District Council meeting:

A Metro planner told the SWDC that they’re likely to go ahead with removing two bus shelters in The Junction as part of a “problem-solving plan” to deter loitering.

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(WSB photo, October 27th)

While Metro is taking comments for two more weeks, so far few have come in, and more are in support than against, planner Dale Cummings said at the meeting.

Lora Swift from the West Seattle Junction Association talked about the walking tour that preceded it (WSB coverage here), and the concerns that in turn had led to that – “transient behavior in our Metro bus stops and our back parking lot. After Metro had reviewed the numbers of people using the bus stops … they decided to remove the shelters next to the porta-potty (on the west end of the south side of SW Alaska by the corner of 44th SW), to open up a visual corridor between the street and parking lot” where there has been “drug activity” in an area hidden from view.

Swift recapped how the notices that were posted almost two weeks ago led to some misunderstanding because they were placed in four bus shelters, not just the two proposed for removal, and the new notices placed a week ago seem to have calmed the confusion. She stressed that this is part of an “overall plan” to address “transient behavior” in the hub.

Cummings said Metro had heard occasional complaints about loitering and harassment and “is not sure what the Metro Transit Police approach has been over the years,” but, the shelter removal “seemed like a focused approach.” He said the idea “forced us to look at how the Junction works” and the usage of the existing stops. He recapped the stats – 200 boardings a day for the shelters that are to be removed, compared to 1,300 for the RapidRide stop at the east end of the block, which will stay, as will the two non-RR shelters in the middle of the south side of the block.

Cummings said that he, Swift, and a Transit Police deputy also did a nighttime evaluation of the site. “There were quite a few things we came up with that could be done to improve the area – CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) including trimming shrubbery to open up the sight lines.” He said the first announcement (two weeks ago) brought in lots of negative response and after the second announcement, “I’ve received seven comments, most of them positive.” He read one comment from a rider who wrote, “I’d like to thank the West Seattle Junction Association for addressing the issues … I’m glad that you’re considering removing these shelters ..while (it) might inconvenience some people, the loiterers will not be able to hang around getting high and harassing people.” The comment, Cummings said, was from someone who lives a block west of the transit hub and uses it. “We have extended the comment period until November 18th, and given the comments we’ve gotten so far I’m thinking that we will probably go forward.”

Southwest Precinct researcher Jennifer Burbridge, attending the meeting for another topic, suggested that Metro might reach out to the Alaska House apartment building a block east, where she had attended a meeting and heard people discussing opposition to the removal. Cummings said anyone who uses the shelters will see the flyers and can use the information to comment directly to Metro. (If you want to comment, do it ASAP: E-mail dale.cummings@kingcounty.gov or call 206-553-3000.)

SWDC co-chair David Whiting said that the problems are well-known but suggested that trying to solve it indirectly by shelter removal, rather than via direct enforcement, is reminiscent of other such efforts, like the (reversed) removal of the “overused” Alki bus-stop trash can.

Cummings said removing the shelters – used by 5 people every 15 minutes – would cost $3,000 to $5,000 but would cost less than other measures: (The hub) “has more shelter than it needs, and we think we can do something positive by pulling them out.”

Lyle Evans from the Senior Center of West Seattle (where the SWDC regularly meets) said “we had a huge trespassing problem in our garage” and as soon as No Trespassing signs went up, the problem ended.

Swift stressed, it’s one part of a plan to help people feel safer. “Cleaning up the landscaping is another part of it, removing the (parking lot) bench is another part of it, lighting the parking lot is another part of it …it’s all part of making our community a safer place to stand and catch a bus.”

If loiterers move to other shelters, Cummings said, they’ll consider installation of “RapidRide-style benches.” Police also have been working in the area, including plainclothes walkthroughs in The Junction to see if there’s anything citeable going on.

Other parts of the evolving “problem-solving” plan were recapped. The porta-potty will stay – it’s been there for many years – because, Swift said, they would rather see it used for its intended reason. It’s maintained daily. The electrical outlets will be reconfigured and locked.

If the shelter removal doesn’t discourage the loitering problem, what happens? Cummings says they’ll continue working on it as part of that larger “problem-solving plan.”

ALSO AT SWDC: The scheduled discussion about saving West Seattle’s murals was postponed. Also, plans for next month’s meeting – at which next year’s officers are to be chosen – are still being worked out because the city has, as of this writing, scheduled a West Seattle open house about projects including the HALA rezoning (and reportedly 35th SW) on the same night, despite community advocates’ request for a different night. (Separate story to come.)

27 Replies to "Metro likely going ahead with removing 2 Junction shelters, Southwest District Council told"

  • newnative November 3, 2016 (10:57 am)

    Few comments against it?  Really?  I doubt that, considering the discussion on the District 1 Facebook group about this.  This is incredibly unfriendly to bus riders and disabled who use these shelters while waiting for a bus.  

    • WSB November 3, 2016 (11:05 am)

      If you’re still talking about it on there, please make sure people have sent comments directly to Dale Cummings, pro, con, or otherwise … as I always say, it’s awesome that people are commenting on the public Web (closed social media is a little less public) but you have to follow the official channels too or they can certainly claim to never have heard. – TR

      • newnative November 3, 2016 (11:31 am)

        Thanks, I have linked this story to that discussion (the poll).  I will be emailing that guy.  

  • Gina November 3, 2016 (11:13 am)

    One bus shelter to the west of the alley will provide shelter for bus riders needing a bench. When I catch a C ride at midday non bus riders are occupying the shelters by the outhouse.  128 and 50 riders to the Junction have to be nimble in order to avoid the non riders.

  • KM November 3, 2016 (11:24 am)

    Comment sent, thanks for the nudge and email address.

  • Joe Szilagyi November 3, 2016 (12:01 pm)
    Apparently not enough people mailed them or called, which seems to be the only thing that counts. Please immediately email to:
    Your thoughts on the shelter removal. This IS time sensitive. I sent the following e-mail myself, just now:
    ###
    Subject: Junction removal of bus shelters should be stopped
    Date: November 3, 2016 at 11:54:41 AM PDT
    Cc: Lisa Herbold  
    Hello:
    I am responding to this with feedback, and am astounded by the report in the West Seattle Blog here:
    Which states,
    “While Metro is taking comments for two more weeks, so far few have come in, and more are in support than against, planner Dale Cummings said at the meeting.”
    Does community feedback only count if it’s explicitly sent to your office? There are loads of feedback here on Facebook that overwhelmingly AGAINST these removals:
    79 against, 13 for, 3 undecided
    114 against, 11 for, 2 undecided
    There is no real overlap in participation in these polls, and comments to them should be reviewed and counted in your totals. 
    Additionally, trivial review of the comments in all the linked articles on the West Seattle Blog reveals substantial opposition to this plan. It is a failure of governance to not accept and equally consider feedback from all sources and venues, and is incompatible and regressive with modern life in our connected, online age.
    Please do the bidding of the overall community, and lot just the local business community in the West Seattle Junction. 
    Joe Szilagyi
    West Seattle Resident
    ###
    Apparently the clock is ticking. Please email ASAP.
  • ellipses November 3, 2016 (12:15 pm)

    Lame

  • d November 3, 2016 (12:46 pm)

    Are taxpayers need to stop funding Metro this crap is ridiculous at over $3 a ride the least they could do is give you a shelter and a seat while waiting for a bus that always shows up late a minimum wage security guard is the least they can do to protect you at a stop that always has people loitering realistically though they should actually have a real officer there the obviously the people that make the decisions about those shelters don’t ride the bus and what about all the trash cans they don’t have it every stop that they should they get money for nothing man and it will never be enough

  • martin November 3, 2016 (2:18 pm)

    Doesn’t make sense. There is only going to be an increase in usage as time goes on. All of the development being done has to be taken into consideration.

  • Jack Carson November 3, 2016 (2:51 pm)

     I use this bus stop and often the last two shelters are  being used people hanging out and drinking. One day I took the bus downtown and upon returning the same person who was there when I left was still there only he was passed out from drinking the empty 12 pack of beer at his feet.  Today the only people in any of the shelters were 3 people hanging out by the sani-can smoking and drinking out of brown paper bags.   I support this plan. 

    • Joe Szilagyi November 3, 2016 (3:09 pm)

      How does this plan stop them just doing the same thing in the Rapid Ride shelter? Do we pull that one too?  

    • Howard November 3, 2016 (3:14 pm)

      Yeah it’s a great plan. I mean if there are only two shelters instead of four that will prevent the homeless from using the remaining two right? 

  • John November 3, 2016 (3:12 pm)

    As a daily user of the Junction bus stops I also agree with the plan to remove the two shelters.  For months now I have not seen them being used by anyone actually waiting for the bus — only for groups of people loitering in the area and making it difficult for people to get by them on their way to the actual locations where the buses stop.   

  • Janine November 3, 2016 (3:15 pm)

    Bus shelters have become places for people to smoke, drink, panhandle, sleep, deal drugs and do many things having nothing to do with ridership.  When I see an elder in  a walker standing aside waiting for a bus while these folks are dominating the bench for their own purposes I get furious! Many won’t even sit when they have a chance anymore because of the filth. 

  • Enid November 3, 2016 (3:19 pm)

    I don’t trust anything that Metro says.  They do what they want to do, regardless of rider input.  What are they going to do when the drunks move across the street?  Reduce bus service?  Because that’s exactly the kind of half-assed decision making typical of Metro.

  • Brian November 3, 2016 (3:33 pm)

    Glad they are doing this, though I hope they remove the port-o-let, as well, at some point. I was there a couple of months ago and had a mentally-ill transient who was using those shelters pull a knife on the cyclist standing next to me, then start coming after me and my 5yo son.

    • West Seattle since 1979 November 3, 2016 (4:55 pm)

      Brian, 

      That’s a very frightening experience, and I’m sorry to hear you and your son had to go through that.  However, this shows that the bus shelters need to be policed better, not that they need to be removed completely.

      If they remove the two farthest shelters (which admittedly seem to be the least used by bus riders), the miscreants might end up using the next two shelters, until Metro feels that they’re also a problem and removes them.  Then they’ll move to the Rapid Ride shelters, and Metro might feel those need to be removed.

      This has happened before.  There used to be seats and shelters at 3rd and Pike downtown (in front of Walgreen’s).   There were problems there, and the bus stop was moved temporarily.  When it was moved back, no shelters or actual seats were provided (there are some high “butt-rests” that are only useful for tall or long-legged people with small behinds. I never see anyone using them.)  I no longer use this bus stop because I need to sit; I have to go to the stop at 3rd and Virginia.  I bet I’m not the only one.

      Removing shelters and seats that legitimate bus riders use and need because of the criminal acts or improper use by people who probably aren’t even using the actual buses isn’t a good answer.   It rains a lot here, so bus shelters are needed.  There people who are unable to stand for very long, and need to sit while waiting for buses.   Not all buses come quickly, especially during non-peak times.

  • Ernie November 3, 2016 (7:34 pm)

    Removing the bus shelters is not going to solve a thing.  They will only move on to another shelter until all the shelters are gone.  Then something else will become attractive to the miscreants. The obvious ( to me ) solution is to not allow the shelters to be used by anyone but the bus riders.  Policing the shelters makes sense to me. 

  • David Kerlick November 3, 2016 (8:44 pm)

    I had to reroute when a metro bus 21 FAILED to pick me up downtown and I had to reroute on C and 128, using the shelter at midnight. It was raining HARD and I wear a foot/ankle brace and use a cane and CAN’T RUN from the shelter to the east ans stiil catch the bus. I wrote to Cummings  and suggested maybe replacing the electrical outlets with bright LED lighting.

  • McGruff November 3, 2016 (10:03 pm)

    This is why we can’t have nice things. They’d rather punish the law-abiding than enforce the laws.

  • Neighbor November 3, 2016 (10:30 pm)

    Just spending th money that metro would spend on removing the shelter on actually policing that area. The same 3 people sit there ALL DAY just getting drunk.

  • Junction Lady November 3, 2016 (11:45 pm)

    Remove the shelters and the portapotty.  That section of the block is undesirable in many ways.  Remove and Improve!  

    • West Seattle since 1979 November 4, 2016 (10:14 am)

      Not fair to the people who actually use the shelters legitimately to wait for buses. Some of them might need to sit while waiting; all of them need shelter from our copious rain.  Not all buses arrive promptly–the 50s only run hourly on Sundays, for instance.   Instead, we need better policing of the shelter area.  

      Stop making the rest of us suffer because of the actions of a few miscreants. 

  • West Seattle since 1979 November 4, 2016 (10:26 am)

    I also want to add that it’s really disappointing that some people seem to think the buses, bus stops, bus shelters, waiting benches or people who take buses legitimately to go to work, run errands, etc. are the problem, and that we should have our seating and shelter taken away for things that we didn’t do.  We are not the problem.   

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