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With record numbers of commuters traveling via rail this year, several U.S. transit agencies are adding or expanding quiet-car programs to ensure a more relaxed commute for those who prefer less noise when riding a train.
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), Chicago’s Metra and New Jersey Transit are among the public transportation agencies that have expanded the number of cars designated as “quiet” zones in recent weeks.
On quiet cars, riders are asked to refrain from cellphone use, speak in whispers and mute the sound on electronic devices. Amtrak has had a quiet car policy in place on some of its trains for nearly 10 years.
In late June, MBTA, which tested the concept on select lines earlier this year, added quiet cars to all 13 of its commuter-rail lines during peak travel hours. Also in June, NJ Transit extended its program to all lines serving Hoboken at peak times.
To prepare for implementation, MBTA’s conductors received training in quiet-car enforcement. To inform and/or remind riders of the new policy, mimes stationed outside trains handed out cards that explained the dos and don’ts of riding in a quiet car, including how to ask fellow riders to follow the rules.
Keeping the peace may be a challenge as riders get used to the new protocol. Responding to complaints that some riders can’t keep quiet, Metra officials, in an online posting, implored riders to “be patient” as Metra puts the policy into practice. The agency implemented its system-wide program in June.
“While our goal is to keep cars as quiet as possible, passengers should not expect the car to be completely silent,” the online message stated.
— Julie Sneider