Red Stop, Green Go

SkillsOne checks out one fascinating job: a traffic systems maintenance supervisor that is vital to the city and the movement of its traffic. We meet Graham Parkins who shows us what's involved in his job!

He shows us the logistics of looking after the traffic lights, and takes us on site to see a maintenance crew in action.

About Graham:
On leaving school, Graham wanted to be a refrigeration mechanic. His father worked for Peter’s ice cream and though he worked in the business side rather than production, Graham vividly remembers doing the tour of Peters to see how the ice cream was made. He was inspired in at least a small way by this experience and his father’s long time with the company, to get into this field. At the time, there were simply no opportunities in this field. Apprenticeships were few and far between in the industry.

So after an interview with the HR staff at Peter’s, he decided to pursue the electrical and mechanical side. He applied at the then DMT, now the RTA.

He completed a full 4 year apprenticeship as an electrical fitter mechanic.

That was over 30 years ago and, he’s never looked back. Now, Graham is the Traffic Systems Maintenance Supervisor and loves what he does. Graham says he was familiar with working for one company for a long time as his father had worked for Peters from the age of 17 to retirement.

During his training he worked in the workshop, on construction projects and maintenance. He installed some of the first fully electrical traffic lights systems in Sydney.

He has upgraded and modified systems throughout his career. He was sent out to do field work and liked it. Some of the kids who trained with him at the time preferred to stay in the workshop but Graham likes to move around.

He supervises a team of 24 now and the work is extremely varied. He keeps the team on a rotating roster, so at some point, at 3am, when street lights are vandalised, or traffic lights for a busy rush hour area are broken, one of his team will have to get out of bed and go and fix the problem before people getting in their cars to go to work.

The TMC has a radio room and manages the whole system very carefully. It doesn’t take long, sometimes a few seconds for them to spot a problem.

VJ Linda Mirabilio