Valley Metro Rail customers concerned system is being abused during heatwave

A look inside a Valley Metro car where some people are taking refuge from the heat without paying their fares. The situations that develop have left some customers uncomfortable. 

The heatwave is pushing people living on the streets to seek shelter wherever they can, including the Valley Metro Rail. 

Some riders say there's cause for concern and the stories poured out when they were asked.

"It’s troublesome when you're walking to a bus stop and you encounter questionable characters," one rider said. "You know they can be sporadic, they can be on drugs."

"(I've) seen too many naked people because it's too hot, for one, and they're on drugs." said another rider.

"I don’t want to be mean or judgmental, but at the same time, you have to worry about yourself and what type of state of mind they are in," said a third.

Cool refuge on particularly hot days

Ridership on the light rail ticks up during hot summer days. 

The forecast  high is 116° Tuesday, but inside the Metro Valley Rail cars, frosty air from the AC blows cold and consistently.

The problem is not all these riders are paying fares or following the rules, and some riders feel unsafe. 

It's a cause for concern and Valley Metro is aware.

"We cannot discriminate," Valley Metro communications manager Susan Tierney says.

"Over the past year, our incidents have been reduced by 19%, and they're going to continue to go down."

What is Valley Metro doing about it?

Valley Metro can enforce the fare, however, which is why they've hired more security guards to ensure people are paying to ride and have a destination. 

Then there's the army of Customer Experience Coordinators. They are the eyes and ears of Valley Metro and the first line of defense for passengers who feel threatened.

"There’s that correlation of security officers that we have in our system. So I would say, we are taking action, we are people moving people," Tierney said.

Valley Metro says the Alert VM app is where you can report any suspicious or concerning behavior, and there are call boxes at every station. 

Valley Metro says security is able to respond immediately to problems.