FOLLOWUP: Metro says it will ‘hit pause’ on Junction bus-shelter removal


By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

As promised, we followed up today on the Junction bus-shelter removal that was abruptly announced by the appearance of RIDER ALERT signs over the weekend (here’s our Saturday story).

Metro just announced it will “pause” the removal plan while soliciting feedback. Its answers to questions we asked this morning just came in; first, here’s what we learned while talking this afternoon with Lora Swift, director of the West Seattle Junction Association, who helped organize the October 6th walking tour that preceded the plan (WSB coverage here).

First, she confirmed that the shelters planned for removal are the two to the right of the trash can in our photo above, NOT all four of the blue non-RapidRide shelters on the south side of SW Alaska. Metro had placed notices in all four of the structures, which led to some confusion. These two shelters are at a spot which has about 200 boardings a day, according to Metro, a dramatic drop from pre-RapidRide days (the RapidRide stops on the block see 1,300 boardings a day).

“The ridership doesn’t support having four giant bus shelters there,” Swift said. In addition to removing a space that is used more often by loiterers, she said, removal will “open up visually the path between the sidewalk and parking lot, and give (space) between the Honey Bucket and the shelters.” She said that should cut down on illegal activities such as drug dealing in the Honey Bucket – paid for by the city Human Services Department, which says one has been there since the Junction Association requested it more than 20 years ago.

The Honey Bucket itself will “stay for now,” Swift said, so there’ll be a public restroom there.

In discussion of the removal decision following our Saturday report, some commenters wondered about increasing enforcement. According to Swift, Metro Transit Police (a division of the King County Sheriff’s Office) are now “doing plainclothes patrols … getting on and off those buses,” and working with transients to direct them to services they might need that are available downtown but not here. She says Seattle Police are patroling the area as well.

In addition, Metro’s facilities division will be cleaning the shelters five days a week instead of three. And the Junction Association already has taken action to remove a bench in the adjacent parking lot, which, along with the Junction’s other parking lot on 44th, is being evaluated for lighting improvements.

One factor pointed out in the October 6th walking tour as another possible draw for loitering in the bus-stop area was a fixture with open electrical outlets. While they can’t be removed because they’re required for events in The Junction, Swift says they will be raised out of reach on a pole and locked up.

This all began, she said, with messages from merchants who had pointed out “increased transient behavior” at the bus stops, including drinking and sleeping – both of which are against Metro rules – and harassment of passersby.

Now, via spokesperson Jeff Switzer, here is Metro’s reply, just received, to several questions we asked this morning (part of it, toward the end, synchronizes with some of what the WSJA told us):

The King County Metro transit facility at Alaska Junction is incredibly important to our customers and to the functioning of the transit network in West Seattle. Due to the attention possible changes have received over the weekend, Metro is willing to push “pause” on the shelter removal and actively solicit feedback before finalizing the shelter removal plan. New information will be posted at the shelters within the next couple days and will provide the appropriate contact information. We also read the West Seattle Blog and other forums and will compile comments along with all other feedback we receive.

But Metro would also like to take a moment to clarify the proposal to reduce the number of shelters on SW Alaska Street at the Junction. The Alaska Junction transit facility consists of six individual bus stops or “Bays”. Bays 1 through 4 are located on SW Alaska between California and 44th avenues Southwest. Bay 2, on the south side of Alaska between 44th and the alley, is the subject of this discussion. Bay 2 has about 200 Metro boardings per average weekday. For comparison, Bay 1, between California and the alley, has about 1,300 boardings, while Bays 3 and 4 on the north side of Alaska each see about 400 boardings. Bays 5 and 6 are on 44th north of Alaska, on the east side of the street and they remain unchanged by this proposal.

West Seattle businesses, residents, and others have been seeking to identify improvements to reduce illegal and uncivil behavior in the area. The shelters closest to the City of Seattle provided porta-potty have been identified as facilitating this type of behavior and creating an unwelcoming if not unsafe environment for transit riders and others.

Two factors – ridership that does not justify the number of shelters, and numerous complaints of illegal and uncivil behavior – combined to prompt Metro to plan for removal of the two shelters closest to the Porta Potty. The remaining two shelters would continue to provide very generous waiting space for Metro riders, as would the two Rapid Ride shelters in Bay 1 next to Key Bank. Bay 4 (immediately across Alaska Street) currently has two large shelters and twice as many Metro boardings as Bay 2, and we have observed the Bay 4 shelters provide adequate space for riders.

Metro regularly evaluates issues with Metro bus shelters and makes decisions on the installation and removal of bus shelters, as ridership and circumstances change at bus stops. The plan to remove these two Metro shelters arose out of concerns raised by the West Seattle Junction Association (WSJA), and subsequent meetings between WSJA, Metro Transit Police, the Seattle Police Department, and others regarding security issues in the junction, including loitering, public inebriation, fights, illegal dumping, public urination, and harassment of Metro bus riders and others. The removal of these shelters is one of several efforts in the Junction area that is attempting to address quality of life issues.

Removal of the two shelters at Bay 2 is one of several actions that WSJA and Metro are taking to improve security and maintenance at the Junction. Other efforts include:

· Metro Transit Police have started a “Problem Solving Project” in partnership with the Seattle Police Department SW Precinct to deal with code of conduct and quality of life issues to improve safety and security for business and citizens using the junction

· Possible additional lighting in the adjacent parking lots by WSJA

· Tree and bush trimming by WSJA in the adjacent parking lots to improve visibility into the lots

· Metro will increase custodial maintenance at the Junction bus stops from three times per week to five times per week.

Metro is looking forward to hearing further public comment and adjusting the proposal in ways that can both serve riders and improve public safety.

43 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Metro says it will 'hit pause' on Junction bus-shelter removal"

  • flimflam October 24, 2016 (6:24 pm)

    man, I wonder how any hours are spent on this via metro and what the cost breakdown is. I assume there are meetings, meetings about the meetings, etc etc.

    • Mike October 24, 2016 (7:05 pm)

      $$$ Millions upon Millions $$$

  • Michelle C October 24, 2016 (6:29 pm)

    Thank you for following up on this WSB and for getting clarification from both Metro and the Junction Association. I am more hopeful about this situation now. :)

    I wonder if it would make more sense to switch the bays on that side of the street – there isn’t enough seating at the Rapid Ride stop, and it’s hard to walk by there sometimes.

  • Bill at Duwamish Head October 24, 2016 (6:51 pm)

    FlimFlam, Thank you for your feedback, but you are skipping an important part of this process. We must first have a feasibility study to determine if a meeting, prior to the meeting, to decide who should be at the meeting is actually feasible. 

    Fortunately, my business card says:

    Feasibility Study Guru 

    Given the urgency in this matter, I will only charge 2x my normal rate. 

  • Eddie October 24, 2016 (7:00 pm)

    No need for a pause, you did the studies and made the decision based on facts and data. Don’t cowtow to political correctness and throw a good decision back Into analysis paralysis. Too bad too many people didn’t understand what had been studied and decided before they started complaining.

  • Chas Redmond October 24, 2016 (7:03 pm)

    Fascinating that WSJA and Metro didn’t talk to a single transit user or transit-transfer user in determining that these shelters are not needed. Fascinating too that WSJA thought less of the customers of their businesses than perhaps they should have. Lots of discussion on various forums about WSJA having spoken for a group they really don’t represent.

  • Vashon October 24, 2016 (7:34 pm)

    How about the Seattle police deal with it?  

    Anyone think these people will not move down to the rest of the shelters when these are removed?  

    Anyone think they will not poop if they don’t have a blue pooper to poop in?   

  • Gene October 24, 2016 (7:46 pm)

    Hey Vashon- what exactly  do you want the police to do about it? 

    Please elaborate.

  • Jon October 24, 2016 (7:50 pm)

    We’re getting a glimpse at the lack of thinking that probably happens everyday at Metro. They have no clue about root cause analysis.  Most recently we saw the Alki trash cans and  now the Junction bus shelters.  

  • AMD October 24, 2016 (7:53 pm)

    I wonder if they ever considered the more open style of shelter like the ones on 3rd Avenue.  (The ones with just a top and sides so you can stay out of the rain, but not a back or benches so it’s not so comfortable it’s a magnet for loitering).  If they did, I wonder what the reasoning is behind skipping to shelter removal all together.  The open style seems a good compromise to keep a shelter but discourage some of the nuisance behavior they’re trying to curb.

    • Seattlite October 24, 2016 (9:27 pm)

      AMD == I think your comment is a good solution to hinder loitering.  Bus shelters were not meant to be comfort zones for loiterers.  Getting rid of the benches and enclosed shelter style  is the way to go…probably less expensive too.

      • West Seattle since 1979 October 24, 2016 (11:43 pm)

        Seattleite and AMD: Because shelters and seats were made to be used by legitimate riders of the buses, some of whom might be elderly or disabled and might not be able to stand for long, especially for the non Rapid Ride buses that don’t come as often. That’s why the actual SEATS are needed.  They’re not for “loiterers”–they’re for actual BUS RIDERS.

        • beebop October 25, 2016 (11:55 am)

          Yeah, there should be seats for the riders. But other cities use seat designs that are less conducive to loitering. There are a lot of designs out there that are hybrid sit/stand things, like in the pic below. You can sit but you still have to support some of your weight. 

  • Raincity October 24, 2016 (8:01 pm)

    Why can’t the Rapid Ride buses switch to this “bay” so the increased number of riders actually have somewhere to stand out of the rain.

    • West Seattle since 1979 October 24, 2016 (11:44 pm)

      Good idea. 

      • Community Member October 25, 2016 (6:07 am)

        I think that the design and philosophy of having a RapidRide requires that its stop be closest to the light, so when the light turns green it always gets to go. Move the stop west, and there would always be several cars that pull in front at that intersection, slowing C’s time by a half-minute if it even makes the light. Metro’s not going to make changes that add to the overall travel time on the Rapidride.

  • Eddie October 24, 2016 (8:10 pm)

    Sorry to keep harping, but there isn’t nor wasn’t a plan to remove all shelters at this stop, the announced plan was to cut in half the (IMHO already way to Big for the usage) shelter. Two canopies instead of 4, your benches instead of eight.  Metro did the studies, talked to users and made a cost effective decision. I suppose now that it’s been “paused”, we might see a bunch of further expensive hand wringing and some action in the mid to late 2020’s.

  • Tony October 24, 2016 (8:52 pm)

    These explanations and photos cleared up a lot

    and it sounds more reasonable than the notices and earlier reports.

    There must be enforcement such as punishing offenders

    and not the law abiding people dependent on metro transit services!

  • Trickycoolj October 24, 2016 (9:25 pm)

    I see more issues with drug use in the flower beds/shrubbery at the 44th end of that first row of the parking lot than I ever do at those bus stops. I actively avoid parking in the end spaces when out to dinner in the evening as there’s always people loitering drinking hard alcohol and smoking weed and who doing knows what else. Sick of getting in my car and having the whole inside smell of someone else’s drugs. That’s all on the junction association so I hope they plan to address more than just lighting and refrain from throwing metro under their own bus. 

    • WSB October 24, 2016 (9:34 pm)

      We wrote about that in the first story – there’s been a lot of shrubbery clearing there, plus a bench removal, and they’re evaluating the lighting (part of which is apparently City Light’s responsibility). Sorry I don’t have before/after photos, but it’s definitely not what it used to be.

      • Trickycoolj October 24, 2016 (10:37 pm)

        There’s still issues if it’s already been cleared. 

  • WSobserver October 24, 2016 (9:55 pm)

    “First, she confirmed that the shelters planned for removal are the two to the right of the trash can in our photo above, NOT all four of the blue non-RapidRide shelters on the south side of SW Alaska. Metro had placed notices in all four of the structures, which led to some confusion.”

    Yes, yes it did.

    There is a substantial difference between taking out half  the bus shelters or ALL of the bus shelters. Get yo’ stuff together Metro.

    • Eddie October 25, 2016 (7:55 am)

      If anyone read the notice, it was very clear about what was to be removed, and what was to remain. I don’t blame them for posting the notice on all four canopies.

  • Brian October 24, 2016 (10:55 pm)

    Awesome.  Love it.

    Metro if you’re reading these comments and the WSB (and who wouldn’t, it’s fantastic!) – then I’m sure you understand the only people who comment are typically the naysayers.  But as someone walking past that area with my kid daily, I’m thrilled to hear that Metro is moving so quickly following the walkthrough, and actually doing something about the declining situation on that Junction block.   I’d love to see the portapotty go too, but having the shelters out, benches out, security presence, etc should help greatly.  Let’s see!

    For people complaining about costs and timing, 3 weeks is nothing, even for a private company let alone a governmental agency.  Hats off.

    • Brian October 24, 2016 (11:03 pm)

      Didn’t mean to also leave out Seattle police and Junction association from the thanks.  Everyone doing their piece.  

  • WestCake October 24, 2016 (11:35 pm)

    What the police could do – a citation for loitering would be a start. If the citation is not paid, that can turn into a warrant for someone’s arrest. The no consequences attitude towards the homeless is an enabling attitude that doesn’t seem to be working. 

    • JanS October 25, 2016 (12:05 am)

      consequences for being homeless?  or consequences for anyone, homeless or not, for loitering? which one is it?

  • WestCake October 25, 2016 (12:53 am)

    Specifically for anyone loitering. I just happen to notice the vast majority, maybe all of the people loitering there to be homeless. This is a simple security issue, the police should be posted sentry which is a common tactic used when trespassing and loitering become a problem. If people were loitering in the forest, would we burn the forest down?

  • the flash season October 25, 2016 (3:39 am)

    What the police could do – a citation for loitering would be a start. If the citation is not paid, that can turn into a warrant for someone’s arrest. The no consequences attitude towards the homeless is an enabling attitude that doesn’t seem to be working. 

  • René October 25, 2016 (5:07 am)

    These shelter removal considerations seem to be from the standpoint of the ridership consisting of  able bodied healthy individuals.   The  old, disabled  and fragile metro riders are being  dismissed.  There’s more than the working able bodied weary?  My son gets care at the seattle cancer care center,  He’s not the only person with chronic illness or malignancies (his)  that the shelters are of great benefit to.  I’m a senior citizen who uses a cane.  I have balance issues.   From a reasonable accommodation standpoint removal of an existing shelter is just wrong.  

  • anonyme October 25, 2016 (6:04 am)

    Agree with Flimflam & Bill.  No need for more studies or “projects”.  Just enforce the dang law.  And these guys use the shelters to the left of the garbage can as well.  The shelters may not be “needed” per Metro, but removing them does nothing to address the problem.

    Homelessness is not a crime.  Public intoxication, drug use, and loitering are. 

    Elderly and disabled people do need a place to sit.  However, I rarely see seats offered up to these folks, on the bus or off.

    Raincity had an excellent suggestion.  Switch the Rapid Ride stop to where there are four shelters (the area in question).  That would also relieve congestion at the corner, where it’s difficult for pedestrians to get by the crowd.  One or more shelters could be removed at the corner.  Makes perfect sense.

    • Jort Sandwich October 25, 2016 (2:08 pm)

      Unfortunately, that does not help with RapidRide’s goal of providing frequent transit. 

      By moving the stop back, you would allow other cars to jump in front of the RapidRide, which could slow or delay the RapidRide bus’s ability to make it through the short light signal. 

      The RapidRide needs to have the lane priority in the position closest to the light.

  • Sad and Mad October 25, 2016 (8:39 am)

    Yes to Anonyme, flimflam and bill!  Enforce the existing laws.  

    Suggestion to Metro: In addition to removing half the shelters, consider replacing remaining shelter benches with a few small round stools and signs that they are reserved for disabled folks who wait for their bus.

    Too many good people are experiencing compassion fatigue while we go round and round.  This does not serve anyone, especially those homeless people who are not breaking laws and need our support. 

  • old timer October 25, 2016 (9:54 am)

    Thanks WSB, Metro, and the others for this clarification.  Even with the photo, I see two shelters, not four, but the explanation makes clear that there are two large shelters each comprised of two smaller units, and it is the two smaller units to the west/right that are proposed to be removed.

    The further elaboration of what is to be done seems much more reasonable to me than what I first understood (or, mis-understood).

    Thanks too for such speedy answers to to the questions of this proposed plan.

    Maybe City Light could put up one or two of those fixtures as are used to light stadiums/sports fields, which would make a lot of difference at night.  

    For my money, I think things should proceed as described, especially with the enforcement procedures.

  • KBear October 25, 2016 (9:56 am)

    The Rapid Ride isn’t going to move farther away from the corner. That would cause more congestion, not less, as the bus would get stuck behind cars and have to wait through multiple cycles of the light.

    And for those who want the portapotty removed, what do you think would happen next? Would you prefer to have more people pooping in alleys around the Junction? Since we absolutely refuse to build and maintain public restrooms and businesses won’t share theirs, this is the half-baked solution we’re stuck with.

    • BettytheYeti October 25, 2016 (11:47 am)

      Yes, another “world class” city fail the portapotty experiment.  Let’s see a long bus ride from downtown what could your first need be?   (Sarcasm here)

  • Jort Sandwich October 25, 2016 (2:11 pm)

    I know that people would absolutely love to have a certified police officer sitting at every crime location 24/7 in the entire city of Seattle, but that’s not going to happen, and it’s never going to happen. “Just enforce the laws” is a pipe dream unless the citizens of this city are willing to cough up incredible amounts of resources to make it happen. 

    The root of the issue is homelessness and a society that doesn’t have a place for these people. Find them a place, and you might see a reduction. We are not the first major city in the world to have a homelessness/drug/loitering problem. 

  • Jort Sandwich October 25, 2016 (2:26 pm)

    This is also a fine example of the Seattle Process, where every single person in the neighborhood feels they need to have their voice heard and validated on this issue. 

    People say Metro moved too fast, others said it’s long overdue.

    This is why everything here takes so long to do and the results are all half-baked.

  • Howard October 25, 2016 (3:19 pm)

    People always welcome the new Starbucks to their neighborhood and they’re happy to have Amazon here but oh no, not a few homeless drug addicts. I’d be happy to trade 10,000 yuppies for 100 homeless druggies.  How dare you privileged people try and take away what little shelter these people have. 

    • Q October 26, 2016 (10:11 am)

      They often seem to have enough money for alcohol.

  • GeneseeHill October 25, 2016 (8:09 pm)

    I often takr the C line and in the past few months, it has been problematic there. I have called the police on two occasions when I saw fighting at my bus stop. I was happy to see police there yesterday. They were respectful and had the loiterers dump out their cans of beer. Having more of a police presence seems like a more reasonable solution than taking out the shelters that the elderly and disabled riders use. Yesterday was the first time I saw police there absent some type of emergency.

  • Real Solutions Needed October 26, 2016 (7:16 pm)

    I admire Howard’s open heart and hope his own wallet and home are equally open to the “100 homeless druggies” he mentions in his post.

  • Lisa October 27, 2016 (5:50 am)

    They should consider piping in opera music, podcasts or Tony Robbins seminars into the shelters. Chances are this alone might flush out the riff raff.

Sorry, comment time is over.