Chris is one of two female road supervisors at Valley Metro Rail. She’s been with Valley Metro for three and a half years after working for Tempe High School as a safety trainer. She started working in the Operations Control Center (OCC) as a line operator (dispatcher). Then she moved to the road supervisor position.
I rode along with Chris to get an idea of what road supervisors take care of. Tonight, Chris’s beat is the area between Roosevelt St. and University Dr. As we head out to check the tracks and the stations, she approaches the riders and asks if they are doing well and need any help. No help needed here, so we start to check the track on our way to the next station making sure the tracks are clear of any debris.
The road supervisors are out there to make sure the trains travel along our 28-mile system with no issues. When it comes to collisions that could impede our service, supervisors are usually first on scene. When a car makes its way onto the tracks or on the curb, they will respond to see if the train might be able to squeak by to keep service moving. If not, a tow truck is called, and the supervisor will let the line operators at the OCC know they will have to “single track” the trains around the incident until its until it’s removed. Single tracking is when the trains take turns traveling on a single piece of trackway.
Supervisors are also out taking care of any other problems that could arise near the tracks and stations. Keeping our riders safe and the system running are their top priority. In her role, Chris also becomes a liaison between Valley Metro and the police or fire departments. She would check with first responders to ensure that it’s safe to continue normal operations.
Some of her other duties include riding the trains to observe operators. If there’s been a complaint, she will ride to do an evaluation of their driving.
When you take a ride on light rail and should you see a road supervisor wearing a bright yellow Valley Metro safety vest, feel free to ask them any questions you may have about light rail service or just thank them for the important work they do each day.