When Ernie Fernandez isn’t hiking in the great outdoors or driving the lane for a layup, he is enjoying the ride on the New Mexico Rail Runner Express, where he is a conductor. Ernie has worked on the train for nearly seven years. His daily routine consists of arriving at the station at 4 a.m. He is responsible for passing along all safety information to the engineer.
Ernie sees more and more children riding the Rail Runner for field trips or just traveling with the family. “My favorite part of the job is interacting with the kids,” says Ernie. He has a seven year old daughter named Isabella, whose sense of curiosity he sees in other young riders. “Like my daughter, kids don’t really understand how the train runs or how it operates. It’s just cool to explain the signals, whistle sequences and how the engineer operates the train,” he says. Since children 9 years old and under ride free, it certainly is a good bargain. Ernie enjoys talking with the youth and wants them to have a good experience when they ride. “If they have a positive experience on the train today, there is a better chance they’ll be one of our regular riders in the future.”
Ernie frequently hears remarks from tourists about how much they enjoy their ride on the train. “They love the scenery and like taking pictures as they ride,” says Ernie. He notes that visitors are always impressed by the clean facilities and the personal interaction. “Most commuter trains in other cities just have ticket machines, where human connection is little to none,” says Ernie. “But here we have conductors and ticket agents on every train who really get to know and appreciate their passengers. It’s not only my job to answer their questions and assist them with bus connections, it’s something I enjoy.”
Ernie’s inviting personality and customer first attitude have made him a favorite amongst Rail Runner passengers.
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