How safe is the light rail?

How safe is the light rail?

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The valley's light rail is used by thousands every day to get to work and back. It's also a favorite way to get home for hundreds of Diamondbacks and Suns fans after a game in downtown Phoenix.

But it's also a place where tempers can flare, as one Phoenix man found out on his ride home.

"Extremely crowded train because everyone wanted to go to the Suns game and get back to the east valley," says Robinson Crawford.

We spoke to Robinson Crawford recently about his experience on the light rail after a Suns game three years ago – and about the video he's posted on YouTube that's had a lot of views.

"It's close to 30,000 which I did not expect."

On the ride home that night, Robinson noticed something strange going on.

"I noticed tension coming from not very far 10 feet in front of me."

So he got out his cell phone and started recording.

"Blackberry Torch was my cell phone so it's not a great video."

But what he recorded was amazing. Watch as the man on the left with a backwards cap suddenly punches the taller man on the right, in the white shirt.

"The puncher gets restrained everyone is trying to get involved."

After the punch is thrown its chaos on the light rail.

"She's yelling that people are pulling her hair.. if you look as far back as you can see on the train everyone is concerned trying to tell what's going on. It could have been an extremely dangerous situation, which is why you see a couple of guys in the background here, those were the most uncomfortable guys on the train."

The puncher was "encouraged" by the crowd to leave the light rail at the next stop.

"He didn't want to get off, it wasn't his stop yet. The next. The whole crowd shouted for him to get off and he angrily exited the train and everyone clapped.. there he goes yeah and the crowd goes wild."

At no time did Crawford see a police officer. And no one was arrested.

"I would like to see more supervision certainly."

"We have a very safe and secure system and we're really proud of that," says Gardner Tabon, Chief Safety and Security Officer for Valley Metro Light Rail.

He says the system is always staffed with ten uniformed security officers – and apparently a few undercover officers as well.

"Let me tell you what we do have, we have ten individuals that are in our system at any time, we also have partnerships with federal and local law enforcement that assist us in a visible and invisible way if you will."

Here's another video shot with someone's cellular phone and posted on YouTube. You can see two young men, one in a checkered shirt, one in a red shirt, beating up another man.

But look -- another train rider pulls a sword. He apparently uses it to break up the fight, and chase the men who were fighting off the train.

It didn't take much convincing. But it's not a tactic transit authorities recommend.

"We saw that in a couple of the videos people got involved and ejected the troublemakers?" we asked.

"We advise all of our customers to please not put their hands on other customers and to call 911 -- move to another part of the car or to notify the train operator through the intercom system that's located within the rail car itself," says Tabon.

In other words, no sword play, please.

"We do not advise any of our passengers to take actions into their own hands."

A frequent light rail rider, Robinson Crawford, also has some words of advice:

"I wouldn't want my sister or mother traveling alone at night by any means."

In all fairness, the record does show there isn't a lot of this going on.

Police say by any measurement the light rail is safe to use -- however police say that after a sporting event, fans can certainly get out of control as they can in any sports bar beer brawl.

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