If you ever ride the bus downtown, then you’ve probably had a memorable adventure at some point on Third Avenue.
While some folks choose to ride the bus for environmental or other reasons, for most of us, the $5 we shell out every day to get to work and back is not a choice when compared to what parking—or having a car in general—would cost.
So given that transversing Third Ave is inevitable for so many people every day, you’d think it would be getting safer. However, sidewalks are crowded and bus stops seem more chaotic than ever, with passengers and buses piling up for sometimes an entire block. Since the elimination of the Ride Free area, and despite some indications that crime might actually be going down, there are definitely still, well, issues.
This was made clear to me on Tuesday afternoon around 3:45pm, as I sat on a bench outside the bank at Third and Seneca waiting to catch my bus home. A disgruntled-seeming man, who had just been kicked off his bus for disorderly behavior, walked up to me and asked me for the time.
He then grabbed my glasses off my face and smashed them on the ground.
Walking a few feet north, he proceeded to kick a woman in the chest, then walked to the intersection at Third and Seneca where he punched another woman in the face, and continued to Benaroya Hall, punching yet another woman en route.
A bystander named Luke tried to rescue my glasses from the ground and then followed the suspect so that he could give the 911 operator a description and to intervene if he saw anything else happen. When the suspect stopped to smoke a cigarette, Luke kept an eye on him until he was apprehended by police.
All the women involved are, as far as I know, all right; my glasses were the only casualty. The Metro police were very helpful and arrived pretty quickly. SPD arrived and were helpful as well, and at least three of the women involved (including me) were chauffeured home. The suspect, who was clearly not in his right mind at the time, is in jail.
But with all the cuts to mental health services, the proposed cuts to Metro, and the impact of previous Metro funding cuts (including nonfunctioning Metro bus surveillance cameras), I wonder what the future of public transportation in Seattle really looks like.
At least for today, I will be driving myself to work. And wearing contacts.