Walt Disney World plans to create a new position — and a higher pay scale — for the employees who direct the movements of its monorail trains.
The new “central monorail controller” position will be responsible for overseeing traffic along the resort’s 15-mile-long monorail network.
Responsibility for train movement currently rotates among a broader group of monorail “coordinators,” who also handle other duties such as employee scheduling. The new hierarchy is designed to ensure that the workers charged with directing trains can focus solely on mastering that operation.
“Of the varied responsibilities assigned to the monorail coordinators, it made sense to separate this distinct function,” Disney World spokeswoman Andrea Finger said Monday.
The change is expected to be incorporated into a new labor agreement that Disney is negotiating with a coalition of its largest unions. The new position will also come with better wages: Veteran monorail employees who have reached the ceiling on their pay scale will be able to earn an extra $3.08 per hour under the controller classification.
It is the latest in a series of adjustments Disney has made to monorail operations in the year since a fatal collision between two trains in July 2009 that killed 21-year-old driver Austin Wuennenberg of Kissimmee. The accident sparked two federal investigations and a wrongful death lawsuit against Disney filed by Wuennenberg’s mother.
Investigators probing the accident found that the controller duties were in flux the night of the accident, which occurred when one train was mistakenly instructed to begin reversing direction. It ended up backing into another train piloted by Wuennenberg.
“As we do throughout our business operations, we have closely reviewed the monorail system and identified opportunities to enhance our processes and procedures,” Finger said. “In doing that, we saw an opportunity to create this new role.”
Among other monorail changes Disney is making: Plans, announced last week, to build a new 62-foot-long maintenance track off of the resort’s Epcot line. The short spur will be used as a new staging area for one of the work tractors the resort uses to inspect the monorail beam and tow broken-down trains.