Thursday, June 30, 2011

Quiet Cars go system wide!

Commuter Rail train passing through Route-128
on its way to Boston
Finally, commuting on the T will become a little less frustrating. I won't have to think "Hey you with the cellphone... Yeah, you, the guy who's talking at an above normal and obnoxious level on your cell phone... SHUT UP!". Now when I ride the Lowell line I can sit and listen to my iPod in peace. That's right! The MBTA is finally rolling out quiet cars, which got rave reviews during their trial run on the Fitchburg and Franklin lines, on all 13 commuter rail lines.

While on the cars, commuters must refrain from using cell phones, keep their conversations to a whisper, and may not blare music on their iPods.

Overall I think that this program is an awesome idea. I mean it's about time that the MBTA puts one of these programs into place. Amtrak has had quiet cars on every one of their lines, including Acela, for over ten years. Similar programs also exist on Chicago's Metra and the New Jersey Transit commuter rail system. My biggest concern with the program though, is where the quiet car is located. The MBTA quiet car on each commuter rail train will be the coach closest to the locomotive. Hmmm... that's interesting. For some reason I thought the MBTA's old diesel locomotives made tons of obnoxious noise. I know the coach does filter out quite a bit of noise, but still some of the old F40PH locos are just so load its unbearable. I feel that the quiet cars should be in the middle of the train (this is what Amtrak does).

Quiet Car sign on Amtrak Northeast Regional 
On Tuesday, in order to get the word out to customers, the MBTA made announcements at both North and South Stations and had mimes walking around the stations giving out cards describing the dos and don'ts for behavior on the quiet cars. Wish I could have caught a pic of that! Conductors will also make regular announcements on their trains to let passengers know that the first coach is the quiet car and that cell phone use and loud conversations are prohibited. If issues do arise with passengers not wanting to adhere with the quiet car guidelines they will be taken care of by MBTA transit police and not the conductors. I think that is a great idea. There is no reason why a conductor should have to put themselves into a situation like that.

Overall I really hope this program becomes even more popular as the months and years go on and I hope that the T keeps thinking up more creative things to make the commuter rail a little more enjoyable...and on time!


  1. Even on the non-quiet cars, passengers still shush loud cell phone users. Very satisfying to watch!

    I often ride next to the engine and on the bi-levels at least it isn't too loud. Then again, I don't remember if I've ever ridden next to a screamer.

  2. Viva quiet cars! Great point about keeping them away from the locos, though.


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