Rantz: Sound Transit staff must be fired, agency dismantled

Feb 21, 2023, 6:00 PM | Updated: Feb 22, 2023, 6:44 am
Photo courtesy of The Jason Rantz Show Sound Transit Sound Transit Photo courtesy of The Jason Rantz Show

It’s time to fire nearly all Sound Transit staff, dismantle the agency, and restart from scratch. Their incompetence is too much.

I took the light rail to Sea-Tac Airport ahead of the long weekend. As usual, the service didn’t meet my already low expectations. It’s difficult to get to the platform and the trains are filthy because Sound Transit staff allow the homeless to use it as shelter space and a drug den. Its clueless, high-paid CEO doesn’t care, and neither does the staff.

Heading to the downtown station with luggage, I looked for a working elevator. It’s usually futile, as the elevators are often broken and, when they do work, you have to hold your breath on the way down because of the pungent smell of urine. This time, one elevator shaft was gated off and the other was occupied by drug addicts smoking fentanyl. They are allowed to occupy the area because Democrats legalized drugs and Sound Transit security is nowhere to be found.

The escalators, of course, are almost all broken. They’re almost always all broken. Sound Transit is incapable of operating escalators, so we shouldn’t be too shocked that their projects are always overscheduled and over budget. Like others, I was forced to carry my heavy luggage down multiple flights of stairs. Imagine what the elderly or disabled go through since Sound Transit sure doesn’t care.

Sound Transit project threatens century-old church in Lynnwood

Onboard experience as bad as getting to the station

Once on the train, I spotted three homeless people. Two were passed out, one sprawled across multiple seats and one hunched over in the back.

When one appeared to be getting high, the couple seated in front of him wisely decided to go somewhere else. At one point, a Sound Transit employee hopped on the train and sat a few rows in front of two homeless while staring in the direction of the sprawled-out homeless man. Did the staff member say anything or call security? Of course not.

Once I got to the airport, I was greeted on the platform by a homeless man yelling something incoherent to someone before asking another for a cigarette lighter. And, of course, only one escalator was working, causing a logjam of passengers trying to catch their flights.

How does it get this bad?

How does Sound Transit get this bad? It’s a combination of a few factors.

First, you have Seattle urbanists who will always make excuses because they’re members of the transit cult. They’re so desperate to get you out of cars and onto transit, they don’t really care about the service. To them, it’s about signaling their virtue as mass transit users — as if that makes them morally superior to those of you who drive. But they also think any criticism of mass transit will hurt its chances of expansion. It’s an ignorant view, of course. A product that meets basic expectations and is easy to ride will bring more customers.

Complain about the open drug use? They’ll accuse you of stigmatizing addiction. That’s not a bad thing, by the way: Addiction should be seen as deadly. We want them off drugs, not on them. Annoyed about escalators or elevators not working? Though they’d be the first ones to call out ableism, they’ll tell you to take the stairs because exercise is good for you. Bothered by the homeless? Though the urbanist won’t invite the homeless into their own home, they’ll scold you for not being compassionate. To them, it’s compassionate to let people get high and pass out on transit.

Second, you have a worthless CEO in Julie Timm, who is paid $375,000 annually, plus benefits. It’s a great gig if you can get it — not doing anything to improve service, but demanding billions more to complete projects that will also consistently disappoint taxpayers and visitors. She appears to spend much more time talking on Twitter with other urbanists who don’t think living through this poor service is virtuous. So long as you take no pride in your work or feel a calling to do something productive with your life, you too can be an overpaid CEO.

Third, you have Sound Transit managers and leaders who are equally disinterested as the CEO. Any Sound Transit staffer who takes pride in their work would be embarrassed by this agency. They would seek employment elsewhere. They stay with Sound Transit, not to make it worth taking, but because they can get away with doing the absolute bare minimum, knowing it’s almost impossible to be fired as a government worker.

Sound Transit is in the state it’s in by design. If we want people to actually take Sound Transit, especially with such limited options on where it goes, we need to fire the staff, dismantle the board, and start from scratch. Light rail could be worthwhile, we just need employees and leaders who are capable of and interested in a working agency.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Sound Transit staff must be fired, agency dismantled