Phoenix Light Rail moving along the westbound line near the Van Buren Street and Central Avenue station. (Photo by Kayla Koch)
Methods to stay safe on the light rail
Safety on public transportation is a prevalent issue among Arizona residents. For many Arizona State University students, riding on the light rail late at night can be a stressful experience due to unregistered riders, homeless squatters and overly belligerent fellow passengers.
The Phoenix Metro Light Rail has a plethora of security measures it implements daily for the well-being and satisfaction of its riders. Those features include sponsored technology measures planned in the near future to increase the availability of resources for those who may feel unsafe during a light rail ride with no immediate assistance.
While the Phoenix Metro Light Rail has a great amount of ways to keep riders safe while in commute, here are four worth paying a bit of attention:
With a cell phone at everyones fingertips and advancements being made on a regular basis, the light rail has taken advantage of the modern-day trend of technology. Corinne Holliday, Valley Metro public information specialist, commented on the light rails technological advancements regarding personalized forms such as phone applications.
“Valley Metro recently received a $1 million Mobility on Demand (MOD) project grant from the Federal Transit Administration to develop a mobile app that will integrate mobile ticketing and multi-modal trip planning information,” Holliday said. “The agency is partnering with RouteMatch Software, transit industry technology provider, as well as Arizona State University, Lyft and the city of Phoenix Public Transit Department to create the passenger-based app.”
Students on a tight budget utilize the light rail because of convenience and inexpensive pricing. Also that Phoenix Metro is now teaming up with ride-sharing service Lyft, which means that students will now have more variety in their transportation methods.
ASU student Kelsey Shaffer takes into account a couple of things before going on the light rail.
“Depending on where I was going, if it were right off the light rail, I would take the light rail for convenience. But if my destination were a little bit farther and I was by myself, I would take an Uber,” Shaffer said.
Convenience is key and technology is definitely part of the future when it comes down to safety in transportation.
Being utilized in the police force, canines have often been brought alongside police officers and airport officials to sniff out potential causes of harm. The light rail has joined in on this safety precaution and is now utilizing trained security dogs to ensure that those riding the light rail are safe.
“K-9s will randomly board buses, trains and visit transit facilities doing their detective work; they are out daily,” Holliday said.
A safe place feature is a newer feature of the light rail. If students or other riders find themselves feeling uncomfortable while walking during slow or popular times of travel, they can now move to a Safe Place until they feel as though the situation has decreased in potential danger.
“Valley Metro has also designated all 35 light rail stations in Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa as Safe Place locations,” Holliday said. “Teens in crisis can seek help at any station 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
According to Holliday, passengers have the ability to call for help in the case that a security officer is not in the vicinity.
“Riders are also encouraged to move to a safer location in the rail car or de-board to wait for the next train,” Holliday said. “The emergency call box at the station can also be used to alert our control center and authorities.”
Since police officers cannot always be located in or around the light rail stations, there are teams of security officers who frequent the stations to ensure the passengers and bystanders are safe and acting accordingly.
“There are six teams of security offices that are continually riding the system or located at station platforms who are dedicated to observing and managing the security of the system,” Holliday said.
Since the police force is also an incredible safety feature of the city of Phoenix, they also play a role in the safety of the light rail stops.
“Valley Metro also partners with the police departments in the cities of Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa to provide an additional layer of security and enforcement,” Holliday said.
Christopher Hopkins, a father of a 2-year-old daughter, frequents the light rail. Once, he had an interesting occurrence.
“I did bring my daughter on the light rail and a fight broke out, but luckily she didn’t see it,” Hopkins said. “It was kind of sketchy.”
He said he feels protective over his daughter when it comes to the light rail and placing her onboard, but he also trusts the security officers when it comes to the safety of his daughter.
“(There are) security officers in uniform and plain-clothes; police patrols of vehicles, station platforms and park-and-rides,” Holliday said.
This makes it easy for officers to stand out to children for their safety and easy access, however, it may appear that strangers with positive intentions are at the ready to help stand up against crime.