On The Road To 2008 - Commentary on issues as we countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

Monday, September 24, 2007

Transit Tunnel Opens, Garbage Accumulates

The Seattle transit tunnel opened this weekend, and this afternoon I decided to take a look at one of the stations in the newly constructed corridor.

I entered at the Pine Street entrance to the Westlake Station Tunnel near 3rd Avenue. The interior was well lit and clean, if not perfectly shiny new anymore. I walked around the upper level above the transit area looking for all the other ways in and out, and reading the information signs. I then walked down to the transit level. The escalators only go up between these two levels, although there are also elevators for those that need them.

Before entering the station I had noticed the street vent on Pine between the entrance and Macy's was on full blast. It caught my attention in that previously I'd never noticed the noise while the tunnel was under reconstruction. Inside, while you could still smell the bus exhaust, it wasn't too bad and the air was breathable. I would hope, however, that they'll avoid running buses that can't run electric as much as possible.

While the new tunnel looked very nice, I was struck by one thing more than any other: there are absolutely no garbage cans.

The end result is this kind of mess:

Without a garbage receptacle at hand people have been piling up their fast food waste to either side of seating areas or tossing it on the floor, as can be seen in the above photo I snapped on my phone from above. These aren't huge piles but they could easily become a bigger eyesore.

I enquired at the Customer Stop booth about this and was told I could fill out a suggestion form, although there didn't appear to be any forms on hand. I asked another customer service person who was helping direct riders, and he mentioned that they have people come around to pick the garbage up, but encouraged me to call my comments in.

A third representative suggested the problem was one of Homeland Security, and a couple of patrolling cops confirmed that was in fact the reason. Nevertheless, it really seemed odd that you could find garbage cans at other transportation hubs, but not here. A call to Metro confirmed the restriction, and when I suggested garbage cans at the entrances to the stations, and signs to alert riders they had to dispose of their garbage outside the station, it appeared that wasn't in the cards either. It was suggested I call Parks and Recreation and they indicated they would look at the possibility where their jurisdiction offered opportunities to add a few more garbage cans, but other than that I was left with having to leave a message at an SDOT customer service number.

While I can see the reasons behind wanting to protect against the chance of hidden bombs in garbage cans, this all smacks of going a little too far it seems. Bombs can be hidden in many places, not just garbage cans, and if we're going to eliminate the garbage cans you really need more frequent garbage cleanup it would seem. Hopefully that will happen.

Meanwhile, if the city could add a few more garbage cans along the street sidewalks near the pedestrian entrance points to the tunnel, people will at least have somewhere else to toss their refuse.

At the end of the day riders need to know they have nowhere to dispose of their waste when riding transit via the tunnel, and should adjust accordingly. These tunnel stations are a great asset to the city of Seattle, and it behooves us all to help keep them clean and safe places as well.

1 Comment(s):

Comment by: Anonymous Transit Traveler

The Boston MBTA and the DC Metro have blast resistant trash cans deployed in their stations. So solutions are available.

10/02/2007 12:10 PM PT  

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