SEATTLE — Before last weekend’s deadly shooting at a Seattle light rail station leaders at Sound Transit were concerned about maintaining a sense of safety for the 80,000 daily light-rail passengers.
The Seattle Times reports the agency boosted the security budget nearly 37% this year to $34.4 million, largely because it took over the downtown transit tunnel in March from King County, when the tunnel became rail-only.
Along with more police and security guards, the agency is upgrading the tunnel’s radio network and video surveillance, partly funded by federal homeland-security grants. There are 67 police and 150 Securitas guards covering Sound Transit’s extensive rail, bus and parking facilities.
“It is certainly our goal to have the safest system, and to have the system be safer than what’s happening at street level, no matter which of a dozen cities we’re serving,” CEO Peter Rogoff said Monday.
On Friday night authorities say where a gunman shot three people in their 20s, one fatally, at around 9:20 p.m. at Westlake Station following an argument. Police said Monday evening they’ve made an arrest.
It was the first homicide since 2016 along the 21-mile Link light-rail corridor.
Then on Saturday, a 42-year-old rider heading to the Husky football game suffer minor injuries when he was stabbed on a northbound train.
In response to the weekend violence, more transit police shifted to downtown from other areas, Rogoff said. Private security guards have increased from the usual two officers per station to three, in addition to roving teams. Seattle police dispatched an emphasis patrol of bike officers to the nearby streets.
Sound Transit reported four robberies, four aggravated assaults and 18 other assaults on the 21-mile light-rail network during the first eight months of 2019, comparable to other years. But simple assaults have increased since 2016, while ridership has doubled.