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Valley Metro cracking down on unruly behavior on light rail

A new "Respect the Ride" code of conduct aims to deter bad behavior in an effort to make riders more comfortable


Passengers ride the Metro light rail in Tempe, Arizona on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017.

Valley Metro will soon introduce a new code of conduct for light rail riders in response to an increase in unruly behavior by passengers — conduct that does not warrant criminal charges but makes other riders feel uncomfortable or unsafe. 

"In order to expand our ridership and encourage more ASU students to ride, we really need to crack down on some of the bad behavior that has been occurring over the past few months," said Valley Metro Communications Manager Susan Tierney.

The light rail is one of the ways many ASU students travel between campuses

"We have enhanced our code of conduct to empower our agency to remove or prohibit people that may be behaving that may make others feel uncomfortable or unsafe," Tierney said.

"It's borderline scary to be on the train sometimes," said Sydney Alberda, a journalism freshman. "As a college student, you need to get around. You can't be forced into an unsafe situation."

Sofie Podolak, a public service and public policy freshman, has seen several instances of people on the light rail making other riders uncomfortable.

Student U-Pass sales have dropped by over 70 percent since 2010, according to data from Valley Metro.

"People were playing loud, disrespectful music, people were doing drugs and drunk guys were hitting on girls who are just trying to get home," Podolak said. "It's a dangerous environment if it's not regulated."

This new code of conduct will allow security to remove paid riders who are being loud or obnoxious. The new code also aims to crack down on riders who ride all day without getting off. Under the current code of conduct, security can only remove paid riders once they become physically violent.

Valley Metro will also be implementing a "paid-fare zone" at platforms. Once inside this zone, riders will have to adhere to Valley Metro's Code of Conduct, even while waiting for their train. This means riders can only remain on the platform until the next train arrives, and they must have a paid ticket to even be on the platform. 

New signage will be put up at all light rail stops to ensure riders understand the new rules. This signage, along with training for security officers, will cost upwards of $450,000, according to the Valley Metro press release announcing the new code.

Tierney said the new code of conduct will be enforced immediately.

"We've began the training of our security officers," she said. "We've been working with police enforcement over the past few weeks to make sure that everybody is clear that these new rules apply now."

This new code of conduct follows a recent announcement that Valley Metro plans to expand the light rail service to cover more of Phoenix.

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