The case of the Alki trash can that was used too much

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On sunny days, visitors to Alki generate a lot of trash. On the beach side, Parks struggles to keep up with it, as reported here before, and as a few regional news organizations noted earlier this week. But today, outside the park boundaries, Alki has one less trash can – apparently, because it was used too much. Diana e-mailed Metro to ask about the trash can that disappeared from the stop on eastbound Alki at 61st SW and shared the response she received today:

Thank you for your recent case submittal, advising Metro Transit of your concerns about maintenance and lack of trash can at the bus stop on 61st Ave SW & Alki Ave SW. I appreciate your use of public transportation and I regret the circumstances that made it necessary for you to contact us.

This trash can at this stop was pulled due to excessive trash from the coffee shops and not our bus patrons. Our shelter cleaning crews are not (there) everyday and the amount of trash that was being dumped was a factor in the removal of this trash can. A trash can will not be re-installed.

“Coffee shops” would apparently be a reference to the Starbucks store that’s a few steps down and the Top Pot store to the west of that. And as to how much trash is NOT too much, we’re contacting Metro to follow up.

(Wednesday evening note: We’re expecting Metro’s response tomorrow, so look for a followup.)

34 Replies to "The case of the Alki trash can that was used too much"

  • Amrakx June 8, 2016 (2:54 pm)

    Perhaps signage indicating “bus patronage trash only” would better serve our Metro transit public transportation provider’s intentions.

  • Jon Wright June 8, 2016 (2:57 pm)

    How can we convince Starbucks and Top Pop to collaborate on installation and emptying of a can outside their stores? Given how much waste from their stores ends up in public rubbish bins, it seems like it would be an opportunity for some good corporate citizenship…and would earn them some good PR at the same time.

  • Rick June 8, 2016 (3:12 pm)

    Reminds me of the license plate tab backs always blowin’ in the wind when my business was on the same block as Rite aid.  Nowhere near the volumes but ever present year ’round.

  • KBear June 8, 2016 (3:15 pm)

    Don’t use that bus shelter too much, or they’ll take that away too!

  • Beckyjo June 8, 2016 (3:22 pm)

    How can they (metro) say for sure that the trash IS NOT from riders who may have enjoyed a cup of coffee and a doughnut while waiting for the bus?  Why would a Starbucks customer come outside to throw their cup away? 

  • Gene June 8, 2016 (3:31 pm)

    What nitwit at METRO made this  decision. All trash comes from  somewhere- what exactly is METRO patron trash? Is it too far of a leap to think that many METRO patrons might grab a drink etc. to go – then wait for the bus?  

  • cjboffoli June 8, 2016 (3:38 pm)

    The more coffee and food the shops sell, the more sales tax revenue they generate for the county.  But rather than add an additional can, their instinct is to take away services. Typical bureaucratic thought process.  Metro’s motto ought to be “Expect Less.”

  • West Seattle since 1979 June 8, 2016 (3:39 pm)

    Why couldn’t Metro add an extra trash can?

  • Gina June 8, 2016 (3:42 pm)

    Great idea, Metro. Much easier to hose all the trash off the floor of the bus at the end of the day. 

  • onion June 8, 2016 (3:50 pm)

    My guess is that they know how many people board buses at each stop and the average amount of garbage the average rider generates. Their garbage pickup schedules in turn are based on those numbers, and the amount of garbage in this can exceeded the parameters they use to create those schedules. If there is a problem with garbage in that location, I think it would be appropriate for the businesses who generate a lot of that garbage to contribute to the solution.

  • K'lo June 8, 2016 (4:11 pm)

    I wonder how much of that trash was generated by Metro patrons waiting for the bus? Might be over used by folks waiting for buses that don’t arrive, resulting in food and beverage being purchased at the coffee ‘shops’. Guess they’ll leave their refuse on the bus now.

  • flimflam June 8, 2016 (4:55 pm)

    that is one of the weirder metro moves in a while. plenty of people drink coffee at the bus stop, on the bus, as they leave the bus. dumb.

  • miws June 8, 2016 (4:55 pm)

    Although I suppose they don’t come cheap, I wonder what the chances of Metro installing one of those compacting trash receptacles would be. 

    I know of at least one, apparently installed and presumably serviced by Metro, on the sidewalk next to the bus shelter at the stop outside White Center Bartell’s. 


    • Salt Spray June 8, 2016 (5:17 pm)

      There’s also a giant compacting trash can at the RapidRide terminal at the Fauntleroy ferry.  Seems like a logical solution to the situation of “too much garbage” at the Alki Metro stop.

  • coffee June 8, 2016 (5:27 pm)

    This might qualify for one of the top 10 moron moves by government for this year….  Perhaps Dow might want to be alerted…..

  • TheKing June 8, 2016 (5:37 pm)

    I don’t blame them. People will see a full trash can and just keep piling it on or around the can. 

    • clulessinws June 8, 2016 (6:30 pm)

      Just like at home until I empty it :) No one wants to just empty it, rather delicately pile on.

  • nw June 8, 2016 (5:58 pm)

    This is going to become an issue throughout the dense population areas of West Seattle in the years to come. I have taken it upon myself to design and install cigarette butt filter bins in areas where smokers are and litter is along the curbline. They get used rescuing trash from puget sound. I have around a dozen out so far and plan to do more, even off peninsula. Admiral neighborhood association used I belive a city grant or matching neighborhood fund to purchase the few which are there. This particular bin I walked past saw how overloaded it was went into the business in front of it at the time and asked for a large garbage bag I was assited by someone inside and we emptied it, this was approximately 3 yes ago. Take some action west seattle!!!

  • Neighbor June 8, 2016 (6:55 pm)

    If you want to blame someone, first blame the people that overload an already full trash can. In other areas, Metro is doing the same thing and the expectation I think is for people to cart out any trash they have with them. Note when you go to other transit centers.  

  • M June 8, 2016 (7:12 pm)

    They removed the can at the California and Myrtle bus stop last year too. Now bus patrons just leave their trash  all over.  Nice thank you from Metro for us voting to give them more money. 

  • Neighbor June 8, 2016 (7:48 pm)

      When you are hiking is it your expectation to throw your trash on the ground if you don’t see a handy trash can  available? Cleaning up all the trash is probably expensive and not Metro’s primary responsibility, I’m guessing.  The responsibility belongs to you the citizen who makes the trash.  I’m disgusted with people that are lazy and litter.  

    • Wes C. Addle June 9, 2016 (7:59 am)

      But when you’re hiking there’s not a Top Pot or Starbucks halfway up the trail . . . .   yet.

  • Westside45 June 8, 2016 (8:23 pm)

    Our two-lane roads get too busy so they turn one lane into a bike lane, thereby encouraging alternate transportation. I see a comparison with litter can removal. Eat something that leaves no trash behind…have Alki restaurants sell only seedless grapes.

    • JanS June 9, 2016 (1:40 am)

      haha….even gtapes can still produce trash…they grow on stems…

  • TheKing June 8, 2016 (10:24 pm)

    That’s funny Westside, better yet….mandate they sell seedless grapes with law, for the better of the people of course. 

  • Overthere June 8, 2016 (10:59 pm)

    I have frequented the city of Bangkok for years in transit to the beaches in the south of the country, Bangkok was a very dirty city for years with trash everywhere.  Funny thing happened, they discovered trash cans and the city in a couple years was much cleaner.

    • Wes C. Addle June 9, 2016 (8:01 am)

      When you’re driving through the Thai countryside there is trash everywhere though.  The beaches are taken care of and they are amazing.

  • clulessinws June 8, 2016 (11:58 pm)

    I feel like we’ve been down this road before with trash cans (not enough or not getting emptied often enough). Pretty sure it was covered here before but basically I feel like people will get away with what they can, conciously or subconciously, since police are stretched thin and out to fry bigger fish. Until people are held accountable, the bad behavior will continue. Willing to bet 90% of visitors to Alki don’t live in West Seattle.

    • newnative June 9, 2016 (8:12 am)

      On a sunny day, that’s probably true.  I remember this happened a few years ago, Metro removed a trash can because it was being overused.  It’s like these trash cans become magnets for everybody’s stuff, whether or not it fits.  

      I seem to remember that there is a liability issue with store employees cleaning public areas and that is why you won’t see Starbucks or Top Pot cleaning up their customers’ trash.  I worked in a fast food restaurant and we weren’t allowed to clean the public rights of way, only the privately owned lot. 

      The other issue is birds.  We know that gulls and crows will sift through the trash and make an even bigger mess.  This is another reason why people need to dump their trash in the closed bins.  

  • Terri June 9, 2016 (8:42 am)

    Agree with Jon that all businesses that provide “take away” could be better neighbors and help to manage the resulting trash. Most people want to do the right thing — including picking up after those who don’t — and we should work together to make it easier for them. And it’s not just Alki … the city’s recycling/trash receptacles throughout the Junction are often overflowing and could easily be supplemented by “privately managed” cans, such as in the new Starbucks’ patio. 

  • CanDo June 9, 2016 (9:08 am)

    So let me get this straight.  In order to use a “metro” trash bin, I should only be riding (or waiting to ride) the bus from the stop where the trash bin is placed?  Do I have to be a Beach user on the north sandy side of the street only in order to use a trash can placed on that side of the street?   Am I not allowed to place refuse in a bin on the South side of the street if I should happen to wander over during a beach visit?   Are Metro workers really complaining about picking up trash cans that are too full?  Would they be happier if the bins were empty and the street gutters full of trash around the bus stop?  It’s a trash can, Metro!  It’s in an area where there are thousands of weekly, if not daily, visitors in the summer and if a trash bin is overflowing, perhaps it indicates the bin is too small, there needs to be more bins in the area or they aren’t being emptied often enough.   I agree that the coffee shops should contribute attractive trash bins in the area as well, but REALLY Metro?   Removing a heavily used receptacle is your solution?     

  • Dan June 9, 2016 (9:14 am)

     This is an unacceptable response from METRO.   It will just result in more garbage on the ground! 

  • NW June 9, 2016 (6:51 pm)

    Was stopped close to intersection of 4th ave south and holgate today looked over towards bus stop in front of Jack and the Box was a large self compacting garbage can the image below in a google street image from some time back different can. 

  • P_on_westside June 10, 2016 (9:46 am)

    After reading the above comments, it seems that I’m in the minority in this opinion, but I’m glad that Metro removed this trashcan. I think Onion is right about how the resources are allocated for trash collection. This Metro stop is clearly an outlier which will drive up the average cost of trash removal not just for this one Metro stop, but for ALL Metro stops. Something tells me that the other commenters who are criticizing the “nitwit” Metro officials would also disagree with the “nitwit” City Council that would need to either raise taxes or reduce spending on other services of value to cover the rising cost of Metro stop trash collection. I personally don’t want my tax dollars being spent to send a crew out to empty this trash can – talk about a “waste” (pun intended) of resources. Consider the cost of the labor, time spent driving out to the stop, gas and insurance for the vehicle, etc. As a resident here I realize that Metro’s resources = my resources.

    Why do you think Starbucks/Top Pot don’t pay their employees to clean up around the store outside of their “private property”? Because it cuts into their profits at the bottom line. Anything not essential to maximizing profits is expendable. Metro doesn’t only has a few options here, and it can either remove the trashcan, put in extra/bigger trashcans (wonder who will empty those?), or collect the trash more frequently. We as citizen also have options; about how we voice our opinions, vote, and spend our money. I’m choosing to let Starbucks/Top Pot know that their lack of contribution to cleaning up the community WILL impact their profits by leading me to choose to spend my money elsewhere. A little negative PR (on Twitter, here, picketing outside the stores) might be all it takes to persuade these companies to pitch in a little more. Just sayin’.

Sorry, comment time is over.