Home New Jersey Transit What cell phones and iPods hath wrought

What cell phones and iPods hath wrought

by Benjamin Kabak

As I’ve mentioned in the past, nothing grates on me more while riding the train than being subjected to another person’s else’s music. I don’t want to hear the strains of Ke$ha or the latest offering from Eminem leaking out of someone’s cheap headphones while they’re sitting 15 feet away from me, and yet, I find this happens more than not in today’s age of iPods and iPhones.

For years, Amtrak has known that the best way to approach this scourge is by designating certain sections of their trains as the “quiet cars,” and now New Jersey Transit is going to pilot a similar program in the express trains that run from Trenton to New York City. Mike Frassinelli from The Star Ledger has more:

The 90-day pilot program will apply to the first and last cars of Northeast Corridor express trains on the line that runs between New York Penn Station and Trenton. If the pilot program is successful, NJ Transit could expand it to its other rail lines and beyond express routes, agency spokesman Dan Stessel said.

Passengers on the library-quiet cars will be prohibited from using cell phones and must disable sound features on pagers, games, computers and other electronic devices. Conversations must be conducted in subdued voices and headphones used at a volume that cannot be heard by other passengers.

NJ Transit will be the largest transit agency in the nation and only one in the metropolitan region to offer the amenity, NJ Transit executive director Jim Weinstein said. “It’s one of the things people ask for most often,” he said. “We expect it to be very popular.”

To inform riders of the new quiet cars, NJ Transit conductors will be handing out business cards alerting them to the upcoming change. One regular rider predicted great popularity as commuters look for some serenity on their rides home. “I believe the quiet car idea is a great concept, as many regular commuters want to enjoy some quiet time in their morning trips and also when returning after a long day at work,” John W. Nabial said. “The only downside I predict is that seating on those cars will be in great demand. Perhaps, after the initial introduction, NJ Transit may need to expand the number of cars designated as quiet cars.”

People, you see, just want some quiet as they travel. No one wants to hear other people’s noises after a long day at work or school. While an impractical solution for New York City’s packed subway system, the quiet cars should make for a better ride through New Jersey.

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SEAN July 16, 2010 - 4:46 pm

This reminds me of a woman 20-something? who was on her cell phone sitting a few rows behind me on a MNR train a few years ago. Durring her conversation, I got her full name, number & where she was staying in manhattan.

I wonder if she lives out loud on facebook.

ferryboi July 16, 2010 - 5:22 pm

Many people, particularly women, live out loud via cellphone. Seriously, what did people do before cells and iPODS? If I hear one more woman have a fight on her cell phone on the SI Ferry at 7am, I’ll scream. Who the heck are they fighting with so early in the morning? What makes them think anyone wants to hear them fight?

I travel all over the US, and I only, only, only see this kind of behavior in NYC, NJ and southern CT. Makes me long for the days of pay phones. At least I could walk away from such nonsense.

SEAN July 16, 2010 - 6:49 pm

When I turned around to see who that person was in the above description, she was tall, slender & had semi-long blonde hair. Reminded me of someone from Long Island I went to college with. In both cases, atractive yet too full of them selves.

Daniel Howard July 16, 2010 - 5:19 pm

Lat time I rode SEPTA a creepy guy was using Jazz as pretext to noisily attempt to flirt with the un-distracted ladies.

panderson July 16, 2010 - 5:59 pm

Forget sounds “leaking out of someone’s cheap headphones “. On the subway I regularly share cars with people playing music out loud through their speakerphone. I’ve seen a middle-aged mother with two small children doing this, but usually it’s a younger person traveling alone. The common denominator is a complete obliviousness to the intrusion on their fellow passengers. Actually, I’m not sure that they’re oblivious – they just don’t care. This behavior is far more offensive to me than cell phone conversations or “leaky headphones.” I’ve said something to the perpetrator on a couple occasions, but not when he looks like someone who might respond by hitting me in the face.

JP July 16, 2010 - 10:05 pm

Panderson is correct. Most people know they’re doing it and just don’t care. It’s the big reason we should resist wi-fi on the trains or underground cellular service.

Or maybe the MTA could capitalize by upselling fares for quiet cars? I’d drop an extra 25¢ each way for peace to read my book.

Unfortunately, never happen. People in New York will always need an excuse to make noise at each other for a hundred reasons, the biggest of all, money. A short list of roving noisemakers: dancing children who blare boomboxes and throw themselves into the ceiling, or just sell candy, the mariachi bands, the preachers, comedians, the usual band of crazies, and let us not forget the gent who’s selling his book on the train. He was just in the Times!

Adirondacker12800 July 17, 2010 - 1:51 pm

Never would have been able to do it decades ago. The cars themselves were so noisy things couldn’t be heard. Especially in the summer with all the windows open.

Cap'n Transit July 17, 2010 - 6:36 pm

Not true. If you had a big enough boom box you could fill the whole car with your sound.

It was obnoxious, and it didn’t last, but it never really went away either. Last year on the J train, one time some woman got on with a little tape deck inside her purse, playing the most cloying religious music.

At least the boom boxes had a decent sound. Who wants to hear “Empire State of Mind” coming out of a tinny little mono speaker ten feet away?

Adirondacker12800 July 18, 2010 - 5:26 pm

By the time boom boxes appeared the car were a lot quieter than the R-1s through 9s …. barreling down Central Park West with all the windows open was a special treat. . .

KPL July 16, 2010 - 10:37 pm

How are quiet cars enforced anyhow? Peer pressure?

rhywun July 17, 2010 - 7:51 am

Good question. The policy will quickly disappear after the first person gets hurt because they asked some obnoxious jerk to be quiet.

Angus Grieve-Smith July 27, 2010 - 8:37 pm

Today on the #7 I asked an obnoxious jerk to be turn off the music on his speakerphone, and he swore at me and threatened me. As I was getting off the train, he shoved me into an old woman who was waiting to get on. Class.

Andrew July 18, 2010 - 9:59 am

Quiet cars have little to do with leaky headphones, which are probably already violations of the agency’s rules of conduct. It’s cell phones that quiet car proponents are usually aiming to avoid.

Cell phones, of course, aren’t an issue on the underground portions of the subway system. I wish the police would actively enforce rules 1050.6(c) (which establishes limits on where performers may perform – e.g., not on the trains themselves, nowhere that impedes the movement of passengers, nothing amplified on the platform) and 1050.7(e) (“Use of radios and other devices listened to solely by headphones or earphones and inaudible to others is permitted”).

Mike Nitabach July 18, 2010 - 3:03 pm

The quiet car on Acela is AWESOME! It is enforced by a combination of the conductors making stern announcements at each stop after passengers embark, conductors shushing loud passengers, and serious passenger peer pressure. It works very, very well, and is a pleasure.

Joe July 19, 2010 - 10:28 am

I ride one of the trains that this will be piloting on, and honestly, the train isn’t usually noisy now. A few years ago, there was a prevalent problem with cell phone conversations. But it seems that people are getting the idea that it’s not appropriate to talk loud. I notice fewer conversations. I’ve also noticed people are less shy about approaching someone to talk lower. It’s not acceptable anymore.

The quiet car is a great idea, though. Unfortunately, it’s the off-peak (or non-rush hour) trains that suffer the most, when casual riders are riding. Commuters kind of know it’s not cool to be loud, as many sleep and read. That being said, there are often groups of people who go into the city for a day, who through conversation, can make the car loud and unbearable. They’re not on cell phones – they’re just talking. But it can be loud.

Dick Whitman July 19, 2010 - 4:08 pm

About a month ago I was on the downtown 4 or 5 between 14th and City Hall, standing and holding on to the bar above me. Below me were two African-American women, one around 18-23 and another much older. Well the younger woman had some loud bass driven rap music blasting in her ears for everyone to hear on his Apple earbuds and the older woman didn’t take a liking to it. So, in response, she began singing religious music about Jesus aloud.

Just another morning commute to the office…

The psychology of a quieter commute :: Second Ave. Sagas September 8, 2010 - 12:41 am

[…] a sense of peace, quiet and dignity to the often tiresome quiet for New Jersey Transit launched its quiet car pilot program. Amidst much fanfare for an early-morning hour after a three-day weekend, the nation’s […]


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