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Ed Yeates ReportingWhile the investigation into Sunday's TRAX accident on 13th East continues UTA says it has no plans to change training procedures for its operators.
There are no plans for any change because UTA says its training policies under Federal guidelines are already extremely stringent. In a maze of downtown traffic lights TRAX operators watch only one -- the changing white light to their left at each intersection. Vertical means proceed ahead. Flashing vertical is like a yellow light. Horizontal means stop!
In all things train operators watch for, this light is extremely important. In fact one operator in training recently who missed seeing the light completely went back to driving a bus.
Mike Shepherd, UTA TRAX Trainer: “He got literally sick to his stomach because he knew what could happen if he missed a signal. He couldn’t operate anymore and he went back to bus on his own.”
Training is stringent because TRAX operators juggle a lot of obstacles and they seem to be getting worse. More cars are turning in front of trains and jaywalkers are wandering all over the place.
Shepherd: "People walk in front of trains more often. Kids get playing on the stations and they'll pretend they're going to push their buddy out in front of the train."
During the training sessions, operators are given what called stress scenarios. If they don't pass those scenarios, they don't operate the trains.
Kids jamming sensors on doors as a prank, gates which fail to block grade crossings, pedestrians and motorists making foolish judgements - all stress, but stress operators must handle.
Most of them do. The gold standard is Johnny Colledge. He’s been with UTA for 37 years and three-million miles without a single accident. Because of that three-million mile record, UTA had to make up a tailor-made patch for Colledge's uniform.