If you’ve been riding the light rail and heard the term “bumblebees” or “highlighters,” it may be a reference to Valley Metro’s Customer Experience Coordinators (CECs). They received those fun nicknames from students at Phoenix’s Central High School because of the CEC’s bright uniforms. Originally, the CECs were added as part of the Respect the Ride program and have been active along the light rail system for more than a year.
CECs act as ambassadors for Valley Metro and are usually riding trains or visiting stations and helping riders maneuver the system. Not only do they aid in ensuring customers have a safer, cleaner, and more enjoyable travel experience, but they are also going the extra mile to help the community.
It all began when two CECs, Wynita and Kyle, displayed extraordinary acts of kindness towards two light rail customers. Wynita witnessed a young female rider on the Alma School/Main St. platform without socks or shoes. Out of compassion and empathy, she removed her socks and gave them to the customer. Another day during extremely hot summer temperatures, Kyle saw another young female customer at the Priest Dr/Washington platform who also had no socks or shoes and seemed in distress. He provided her with his socks and then sat and spoke with her for a while.
As a result, Hatchback Fashions was officially created. Dave, the CEC Lead, now carries around assortments of apparel donated by Valley Metro employees in his work vehicle’s hatchback. T-shirts, socks, flip-flops and other items are given out to Valley Metro customers when the need arises.
Many heartwarming stories have come out of Valley Metro’s Hatchback Fashions. When a customer’s feet were burning from walking without shoes, he was given flip-flops. Another customer exited the train at 3rd St/Jefferson with a broken shoe and no socks, which would prevent her from walking to her destination because of the hot pavement. A CEC was able to provide her with socks, flip-flops and water for her trip.
Hatchback Fashions was born out of simple acts of kindness for others. These simple compassionate acts have magnified into something bigger. Now the CECs have integrated these acts of kindness into their daily duties to make sure Valley Metro customers genuinely have a safer and more enjoyable ride.