Friday, October 18, 2013

Safety First!

One major question is whether TriMet truly cares about the safety to which they pay so much lip-service. And this is making people very concerned. Nonetheless, we still must have a realistic perspective on this.

My friend Lane got in trouble for calling and texting TriMet managers repeatedly. We all can agree that this was not a good idea. But what gets lost in this is the whole point he was trying to make: Are we doing all we can to make the TriMet system safe?

I think that there are plenty of resources being used to improve safety at TriMet. There have been good results, such as increased amounts of security cameras (I'm much more confident in the safety of my car since they installed the 15 or so cameras at the Willow Creek TC P&R). But, just like everything else TriMet does, there are significant missed opportunities. A good example is the layover restroom (porta-potty) at the SE Flavel St MAX station where the Line 19 operator was assaulted last year. They did address the issue: from what I understand, they put a stone walkway from the sidewalk to the door of the bathroom, and added an occasional security guard to stand around. Yes, this was something, but it really doesn't solve anything in the long run. Two solutions that have been talked about would be to (1) come to agreement with one of the nearby business for a decent bathroom, or (2) spend a couple thousand dollars and build one that will last for 40 years. But instead, we have bus drivers having to wait on their bus in the middle of the night and then brave the trail to the dark bathroom if they can't wait until getting to Gateway. Case in point, the two ends of Line 17 (134th & Holgate and 2500 Block Saratoga) have no nearby established layover structures like those at transit centers.

So, yes, there is room for improvement. And while it will never be perfect, I can still recall Joe Rose's tweet from the board meeting (the one where Lane got himself kicked out) when Harry Saporta was talking about the safety initiatives, and Joe turned to notice union president Bruce Hansen in the back of the room shaking his head through Harry's entire speech. Makes me wonder who's serious about safety.

However, we must consider that the world is the world. While we all would like to live in a city where children can roam free without fear, that ain't gonna happen any time soon. Simply put, this world is a sucky, sucky place. And while the westsider I am automatically stereotypes any safety concerns east of the Willamette as defining our discussion, I must remember that there is a house not too far from mine that is condemned because the homeowner killed somebody and cut up his body in the house, storing the pieces in the house. I'm sorry about putting such a gory image in your mind, but I just want you to remember that this is the world we live in, and the future doesn't look bright in this respect.

People point to the SE Holgate Blvd MAX station shooting as an example of a safety "#trimetfail." I would argue that, while I'm not trying to sound insensitive, these things happen and we need to remember that every time we ride. TriMet can only do so much to make this place safe. They do have video cameras there. I did just see some pictures those cameras snapped that hopefully will help bring the right people to justice ( But the rest is up to us. We need to be vigilant of our surroundings, make sure we're dressed visibly, have some way of protecting ourselves if we do need to, and, please, don't be involved with gangs!

The point: by stepping out of my house, I am risking my life every second. This is why I pray every day, because I don't have too much control about what might happen to me when I am out on the lines. I just have to do my best at being vigilant. I can't put all the burden on TriMet with this one.


Please keep it clean! Thank you.