To protect its drivers, county proposing cameras on all Metro buses

Of the 1,300 or so buses in the Metro fleet, only 44% are equipped with cameras. King County Executive Dow Constantine Thursday announced a proposal to install cameras on all Metro buses by 2021 in an effort to “dramatically decrease driver assaults”

Metro currently has cameras in 44 percent of its buses, which has contributed to the agency cutting the number of driver assaults by more than half since 2008. Executive Constantine will request funding in the supplemental budget to install cameras in 80 percent of Metro’s bus fleet by early 2019 and 100 percent by early 2021.

“It is intolerable that anyone would harm one of our dedicated, professional drivers who work hard each day to safely and reliably get passengers to their destinations.

“I’m proud of the work we’ve done in recent years, in partnership with our unions, to significantly reduce the number of drivers who are assaulted. Now it’s time for us to build on our progress, investing more in what works. That’s why I am requesting the funds needed to install cameras in every Metro bus as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, the King County Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee will receive a special briefing “on the steps the King County Sheriff’s Office and Metro Transit are taking to ensure the safety of passengers and bus drivers” Tuesday, March 1st.

Metro has been asked to estimate a cost for the deployments.

Metro says it has already installed cameras on more than 600 of its 1,382 buses. The most recent buses purchased by Metro — including electric trolleys, RapidRide models and the newest 60-foot-long buses — come with camera systems installed, the agency said. The city’s First Hill Streetcar system operated by Metro is also equipped with onboard security cameras.

Metro Transit Police deputies made 26 arrests for driver assaults in 2015.

With Capitol Hill Station about to open for service, CHS also checked in with Sound Transit about their security camera deployment. A spokesperson confirmed Sound Transit maintains a vast system of surveillance cameras on every platform, in every elevator, and on every train car.

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7 thoughts on “To protect its drivers, county proposing cameras on all Metro buses

  1. Sounds like a good idea. I’m surprised they aren’t already on all the busses. Also surprised there’s not some sort of partition – they sit there exposed to whatever/whoever walks through that door.

  2. Cameras are perceived security but they don’t actually provide security. The best they can do is to help catch the perpetrator after a crime has been committed. The victim will still be a victim. Stupid people will commit crimes no matter what. On the other hand, cameras will ceratainly make our public spaces more Orwellian.
    Cameras are a poor remedy for our society’s failure to provide safer public spaces. The real remedy costs a lot of money though and includes better lighting, more foot police presence, and pleasing city landscapes attracting people and not cars, to name only a few. And, of course, a shift on the attitude towards personal weapons.

    • “The best they can do is to help catch the perpetrator after a crime has been committed.” Ergo, that criminal will be taken off the street. Or your precious privacy in a public space on a public utility supersedes a police investigation into criminal activity? Yes, muggers be muggin’, and that’s precisely why I want the cops to have a video of every creep who causes mayhem on the buses. Lord knows as a daily Metro rider, I’ve seen enough of it. And I bet you dollars to donuts that if you were ever mugged or harassed on a bus, you’d be changing your tune faster than you can say “Edward Snowden”.

      Frankly, I’m surprised that cameras are not all on buses…this is news to me! big kudos to CHS to uncovering this fact.

  3. I ride buses almost daily. I agree that buses should all have cameras. I know it doesn’t prevent all crime, but they do prevent some. In one study, 40% of convicted burglars said they would not bother break into a home with cameras. While many who commit crimes may not be the brightest bulbs, a camera may make them think twice.

    While I normally feel safe, I see a lot of stuff that drivers have to deal/put up with. The drug use on some buses! Really one cannot wait till one is off the bus to smoke up? Multiple times I have seen people distributing/sharing heroin, at least they didn’t use on the bus. There should be a silent police call button or radio code for drivers to ask for some cops to meet the bus in route to remove an a-hole. Bus drivers are there on their own and it would take so long for assistance to arrive, I don’t blame bus drivers for not wanting to confront people who don’t know how to behave in public. It’s easier to put up with the smell or loud music for a while. Drivers and passengers should not have to put up with such things!

    Still, I bus almost everyday and rarely have a problem other than a late bus, overcrowding, and reroutes due to construction.

    • I hear ya, Bus Commuter. I ride the bus several time a day and have seen riders do so much crazy stuff that cameras should record and hopefully prevent; like riders lighting up crack pipes and smoking them from downtown to uptown, and the drivers too busy or afraid to stop it. More cameras and less crack smoking, please.

  4. Visible cameras are also needed at bus stops, especially along the E line. Even if no one is watching the cameras, it would probably make people think twice before aggressively harassing commuters, especially at night.