Light Rail Bell and Horn — New Sounds For Phoenix and Tempe

By Ray Stern

Here on the light-rail stop at 12th Street and Jefferson, we've been hearing the guttural "honk-honking" and trolley-like "ding-dinging" for a few days during test runs of the new trains, which are set to kick off operations on December 27.

But let's face it — you probably don't live or work anywhere near the single, 20-mile-long line of light-rail running through Tempe and part of Phoenix. And odds are, the fact that you're so far from the train means you'll almost never use it — or actually see it or hear it, for that matter.

So, if you're curious what it sounds like to be a real urbanite these days in Phoenix, click on the following links:

The first one is the light rail bell, as provided by Valley Metro. Drivers will ring the bell a couple of times every time they leave a station, pull out into an intersection, or "anytime we start moving again," says Hillary Foose, spokeswoman for Metro light rail. An FAQ on the light rail Web site states the bell sound broadcasts at about 50 decibels, or "about the volume of a telephone ring."

In the second recording, (an actual train on Jefferson Street this morning), you'll hear the more urgent "ehh-ehh" honking sound. This one is "strictly use to alert people" who are on the tracks, Foose says. "It's to create a sense of alarm."

In other words, this sound means your butt is about to get smacked by a TRAIN, fool!

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern