Light Rail Lingo

"I'll have chicks on a raft and a butcher's revenge, make it cry!"

Every occupation has its own special language that might sound strange to someone who's not in the business. For instance, if you weren't familiar with diner lingo, you may not know that "chicks on a raft" is eggs on toast, a "butcher's revenge" is meatloaf, and "make it cry" means extra onions.

Valley Metro's light rail system certainly has its own special terms, though perhaps they're not nearly as colorful as diner lingo. Here are a few terms that you might not know so that the next time you talk with a Valley Metro operator, you can sound like an insider!

LRV, Train

LRV - This is an acronym for "light rail vehicle." It's another term for a light rail train car. It's important to note that this doesn't refer to the entire train, which is made up of two or three linked LRVs. The next time you take a trip on light rail, take a look at the upper corner of the inside of the car. You'll see a series of numbers followed by a letter, like 114A or 116B. The number refers to that specific LRV, while the letter refers to half of the LRV. That means if you're on the 114A side, if you cross the middle where the bike racks are to the other side and look in the corner, you'll see 114B! The A or B side helps our crews quickly respond to issues. If there's a spill on 114A, we can send a maintenance crew there and they won't waste time searching the wrong half of the car for it.

CEC, Customer Experience Coordinator

CEC - This acronym stands for "Customer Experience Coordinator." These are the friendly folks in the fluorescent yellow shirts who ride the rails looking for people who may need help getting to their destinations. They also help in other ways, serving as ambassadors to the city by providing tips on interesting places to go, as well as helping the less fortunate. Each CEC has a radio call sign, like "CEC 216," that helps with quick communication with the OCC, which provides a very handy segue to…

OCC - "OCC" stands for Operations Control Center. It's the nerve center for light rail operations, where every train on the line is tracked and problems that may affect service get solved. It's located at the OMC, which is the Operations and Maintenance Center, the main train yard where LRVs are maintained.

Ticket Vending Machine, TVM

TVM - You may not know what a TVM is, but chances are you've interacted with one. TVM stands for ticket vending machine! It's the machine you use to buy light rail passes at train platforms. Just like LRVs, TVMs are each individually numbered. If you ever have a problem with a TVM and call customer service to report it, it helps us out if you let us know what the machine's number is.

OCS – This stands for “Operations Communications Specialist.” This refers to me and others in Valley Metro’s communications department. There’s always an OCS in the OCC, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ready to communicate with our riders about anything that may affect their ride. If you ever hear a friendly human voice coming over the intercom system at a light rail platform, that’s a member of the OCS team. We’re also responsible for sending out tweets regarding light rail service, monitoring messages from the AlertVM app, and writing these entertaining blogs!

Hopefully this gives you some insight into the world of light rail lingo! The next time you hear a customer experience coordinator say, "CEC 216 to OCC, we've got a spill on 116A," you'll know who's talking, who they're talking to, and what the issue is!

Alex Tsotsos
Rail Operations Communications Specialist
Writer, editor, musician, gamer, and former news professional. Frequently seen at Phoenix Rising matches and jogging around Gainey Ranch. May throw things in the presence of typos.