Sun Link’s First Ever Streetcar Operator Enjoys Career Success as Operations Manager

December 1, 2022
Nelson Hall
Sun Link Operations Manager

This month marks one year since Nelson Hall was named Operations Manager at Sun Link. He has been with the streetcar system since August 2013 and was the first streetcar operator hired in Sun Link history.

“I got hired on as a testing streetcar operator,” said Hall, who transferred his transit skills from a year at Sun Tran over to Sun Link.

The testing process included running empty streetcars along the 3.9-mile route before Sun Link officially welcomed passengers in the summer of 2014. A few months into the job, Hall promoted to Rail Supervisor. In January 2021, he moved to Lead Rail Supervisor and eleven months later became Operations Manager.

“The main goal of my position is to make sure that Sun Link provides reliable and convenient transportation to the public,” said Hall. “We need to evolve with the times and always be moving forward.”

He explains that as the community expands, the University of Arizona welcomes more students and area events grow, rider needs change. At the center of it all, Sun Link is constantly reevaluating service.

“I think you should change based on the needs of the public,” said Hall. “It is important to be dynamic, to try new things and innovative. You have to keep up with technology and accept that things are always evolving.”

Hall’s daily routine includes clocking in at 6:30 a.m. During the early hours, you will find him in his office pouring over reports, logs and data sheets. He wraps up projects and works ahead where he can. About 10 a.m., Hall mentally prepares to catch whatever the day throws out.

“There is so much activity out along the streetcar route. You have to be comfortable being uncomfortable constantly.”

Along with adapting to the day’s demands, Hall strives to keep all of his skills sharp. He keeps an ear to the radio and works in the field as needed. Some of the big projects he is working on back at the office include pitching solutions to resolve pain points along the streetcar route, and evaluating and implementing software to allow for system management on the go.

“The software would allow supervisors to manage the system in the staff car in the field, rather than always being tied to the OCC,” explained Hall. “That will allow them to be more responsive to anything they need to take care of out there.”

While laying out what it will take to be a successful Operations Manager, Hall says he draws from his predecessors Cleve and Eric.

“I learned so much from them. There’s a lot of times I think, what would Cleve do.”

The outstanding support and strong examples from current leadership are also guiding lights for Hall.

“John Kortekaas is one of the best bosses I’ve ever had. He is a repository of information to draw from and his levelheadedness has taught me how to handle tough situations. Ryan, he’s basically a genius. He can juggle so much and he’s so fast at everything. Bob is very motivated and works hard. He just keeps at it until the job gets done.”

Recognizing the supervisors and operators as the backbone of Sun Link’s success, Hall says he is grateful for the skill and dedication the team brings to work.

“The frontline employees, you’ve got to give them a lot of respect.”

Proud of the tight-knit team at Sun Link, Hall says his ultimate goal is to ensure the streetcar’s service, inner-workings and legacy remain spotless for years to come.

“I have a lot of learning to do, lots more work. As long as this place continues to be a positive and great place to work at, then I feel like that is success on its own,” said Hall. “I am committed to completing projects on time and showing results. I want to show that if there is a problem, Nelson will fix it.”