Federal Way Transit Center upgrades emergency call buttons

Bus riders at the Federal Way Transit Center are getting a little extra security.

Sound Transit is replacing all the call buttons at the transit center with an upgraded system. The new system will provide two call center buttons — instead of the one “emergency” button that was previously mounted — throughout the Federal Way Transit Center. The original system was installed in 2006 and the new upgrade should be complete by mid- to late-May, officials said.

“The new system will include an emergency (button) that will ring to 911 and a help button that will ring to Sound Transit security,” said Kimberly Reason, a Sound Transit spokeswoman.

The upgraded technology will automatically identify the exact location in the transit center from where an individual is calling.

“This is a positive service enhancement, since the upgraded system will enable security to respond even more quickly to calls by reducing the time needed to ascertain location information from the caller,” Reason said.

The Federal Way Transit Center has been the location of several high-profile police cases, including homicides and assaults, in recent years. The incidents, in part, spurred a joint policing agreement between the Federal Way Police Department, Sound Transit and King County Metro. The agreement was signed in November 2009.

Before the agreement, security at the transportation hub was a complicated issue. The transit center is at 31621 23rd Ave. S. in Federal Way. Sound Transit owns the facility and King County Metro and Sound Transit operate there.

Sound Transit police are now on duty at the center 50 hours a week, from 2 p.m. to midnight Monday through Friday. Staff with the private security company contracted by Sound Transit remain on duty at all times and also patrol the parking lot.

Federal Way police frequent the center at random times throughout the weekdays. The force offers coverage on weekends. A special operations team of primarily officers on bicycles and dual-sport motorbikes also works the transit center, as well as in the downtown core, Federal Way police said.

Other features of the policing plan included: The installation of high-resolution cameras, the playing of classical music over a loud speaker system, signs and stickers indicating the presence of police and video surveillance, a portable radio for Sound Transit police to directly contact Federal Way police, and access by Federal Way police to the substation on the transportation platform, where patrons wait for buses.

The Federal Way Transit Center opened in February 2006 and today serves more than 700 daily bus trips into and out of the center by Sound Transit, King County Metro and Pierce Transit. The $39 million facility features parking for 1,200 vehicles and nine bus bays.


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