Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fixin' the machines in the ol' SLC by jeff rose

I'm glad that SOMEBODY is concerned about the problem. Too bad the only way
for us
operators to help is to fill out those freakin' yellow cards! I'd really like
to do more to
suggest solutions to problems like this but unfortunately communicating concerns
our position as bus operators is tragically difficult.

It's hard to tell whether it is a problem with the machines (perhaps age?) or a
problem with
protocol. When I was a lightrail operator in Salt Lake this was a non-issue.
It could be
that we had better machines, or just that they were newer and in better shape-
or it could
be that getting them fixed quickly was a higher priority. I'll give you a
little snippet of how
things typically went from my point of view at TRAX.

I'm pulling into a station on the mainline and see that the yellow light on the
vending machine at the south end of the platform is flashing. I pick up the
radio handset
and notify control:

"Control, Train Five- South TVM at Murray North is flashing"

"Copy Train Five"

"311 Copy"

311 is Dave Thomas, a MOW supervisor and friend of mine. He instantly
the problem. The next train that passes will notice either Daves or some other
MOW with
his head in the machine fixing whatever problem that TVM happens to be having.

About 20-30 minutes later, I'd hear on the radio:

"Control, 311- South TVM at Murray North is back in service"

"Copy 311"

That's it. Every once in a while there would be a TVM out for several days
waiting for a
part, and there was *one* TVM (located in the Delta Center and rarely used) that
constantly "cannibalized for parts to fix the other TVMs but pretty much the
crew kept
them ALL working ALL the time. I can't imagine that the machines here are all
different from the ones in Salt Lake. So is it the machine or the manpower?
(or the

I would like to hear from sombody who has a really keen sense for where the real
roadblock here is to keeping the TVMs fixed and working properly.

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