Sound Transit needs to make amends to Seattle students

Wednesday marked the first day of the school year for students in Seattle Public Schools (SPS). What should have been a day of joy, re-discovery, and learning was marred by overzealous fare enforcement on the Link Light Rail system, as reported by SPS educator, Jesse Hagopian:

"On the #FirstDayOfSchool, the light rail fare enforcement is out in force busting high school students—before they get to school & get their ORCA cards that will allow them to travel to school for free. Stop making barriers to our youth’s education!"

Sound Transit responded defensively, saying: "Sound Transit is not ticketing students on Link light rail today. No riders of any age are ever ticketed without getting a warning in the previous 12 months...But today we are not even issuing the formal warnings to students."

And: “If they’re like my kids, SPS gave them a one-day paper ORCA card that covers today...It’s good to remind folks how the system works. And officers have discretion to issue warnings instead of fines.”

Sound Transit's response isn't good enough. They need to formally apologize to the students that were harrassed on their way to school, and we need a system in place to ensure that students aren't harrassed again in the future.

Today's Action: Ask the King County Executive to Demand Changes from Sound Transit

Contact King County Executive Dow Constantine:

Sample script:

Hi - I am a resident of King County. I heard that on Wednesday, Sound Transit Link fare enforcement contractors were harrassing Seattle Public School kids who were on their way to the first day of school—where they would have been able to pick up their ORCA cards. It isn't acceptable for Sound Transit to harrass these kids, and I would like to see Executive Constantine call on Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff to apologize, have Sound Transit expunge any warnings issued to students during this first week of school, and find a way to make sure this doesn't happen again. Thank you.

Bonus Action: Thank Mayor Durkan for being on the right side of this issue

Mayor Jenny Durkan, who originally created the program that Seattle Public School students use to get their free ORCA cards, is on the right side of this issue. She tweeted:

"@JessedHagopian Thank you for bringing this to everyone’s attention. Even without handing out tickets, warnings generate citations and contribute to a potential future fee for students. I am asking Sound Transit to expunge any warnings issued to students during this first week of school."

https://twitter.com/MayorJenny/status/1169475151605317637?s=20

Contact Mayor Jenny Durkan:

Sample script:

Hi - I'm a resident of Seattle. I saw Mayor Durkan's tweet in response to Jesse Hagopian, who called out Link Light Rail fare enforcement's behavior towards Seattle high school students who had not yet picked up their free ORCA cards, and I want to thank her for asking Sound Transit to expunge any warnings issued to students. Furthermore, I hope the mayor helps to make sure that this does not happen again. Thank you.

Background:

‘It’s good to remind folks how the system works’ — On first day of school, students get lesson in Sound Transit fare enforcement: https://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2019/09/its-good-to-remind-folks-how-the-system-works-on-first-day-of-school-students-get-lesson-in-sound-transit-fare-enforcement/

Mayor Durkan Announces ORCA Opportunity - https://durkan.seattle.gov/2018/02/during-her-first-state-of-the-city-address-mayor-durkan-announces-orca-opportunity-which-provides-free-orca-passes-to-high-school-students-and-seattle-promise-scholars/

Event: Takele & Damiana Doorknocking!

Date: Saturday, September 7, 2019 from 12 PM – 3 PM

Location: Meet at the parking lot of Pabla Punjabi Palace 15245 International Boulevard Ste 205 SeaTac, WA 98188

RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/754301531653090/

SeaTac needs CHANGE. It's time to put #PeopleFirst and take care of our community.

Join Damiana Merryweather and Takele Gobena to go door to door to talk to voters in our community!

We will be meeting at the Parking lot of Pabla Punjabi Palace 15245 International Boulevard Ste 205 SeaTac, WA 98188.

We have to talk to voters to get Takele and Damiana elected on November 5! We encourage everyone to come. If it's your first time, no worries we got you covered with a training right on the spot.

Please arrive on time for a quick training. Wear your comfortable walking shoes and bring a friend. Snacks and water will provided.