Why Not Have a “Noisy” Car on the Commuter Rail?

“Quiet” cars are coming to my local commuter rail, beginning in a few weeks.

That means, the 90% of passengers who are already quiet can now choose to squeeze into the two designated quiet cars on each train, while the remaining 5-10% who are “noisy” can stretch out comfortably in nearly any car they wish, confident that any polite requests for them to “Keep it down, please?” can be answered with a polite, “Perhaps you would like to squeeze into the quiet car while I browse through all the ring tones on my phone?”

Wow – that’s irksome.

Why does it never occur to folks that perhaps a designated “noisy” car would better serve most passengers?

The current gap between “nice commute” and “noisily harried commute” is, currently, small – it could be bridged effectively with a program of courtesy reminders. Rather, a program of divisive rule-enforcement will only, IMOO (that is, “In My Opinionated Opinion”), cause folks to think that courtesy is not necessary, as long as we create sufficient boundaries between the gap-makers.

Meanwhile, the war on Second-Hand Sound, which I am convinced will soon be recognized as causing as much damage to mental health as we now know second-hand smoke to cause to physical health.. well, that war is brewing on the horizons of our busily crowded lives.

Sorry to be a yammerer, but I think that issues concerning preservation of solitude are worth yammering about, and sometimes a bit loudly, especially when I’m about to get squeezed into an over-crowded quiet car. Hopefully they’ll serve us peanuts and chips!


2 Replies to “Why Not Have a “Noisy” Car on the Commuter Rail?”

  1. Noise was rarely a problem when I took the LIRR. Yes there was the occasional annoying person on the cell phone and at night drunk kids but during the working commute times it was almost always quiet.

    1. The situation is different on my commute. There is almost always at least one person either on the phone or playing loud music. And in a mostly quiet train car one person can easily disturb 50 other people.

      And most of the disturbances could be prevented without even asking folks to stop using their cell phones – i.e., just by having folks turn off the ringers, excuse themselves to the vestibule to take a call, and keep calls brief and/or quiet. Philadelphia’s SEPTA had a pretty draconian policy about this posted on signs a few months ago – you were basically told not to take a call unless it was urgent, and then to keep it brief and quiet.

      Most days, I really don’t mind it and hardly notice it. But with a daily commute discourteous folk can start to be a real drag after a while. And I am playing it up a bit because I honestly do believe that what I call “second-hand sound” is a significant mental health hazard, and leads to us all becoming more and more distractivated by random inputs as we jostle along from day to day. I’m serious – I think it’s a problem that needs to be addressed in a public policy sort of way (e.g., as NYC did in their update to the “Noise Code” a few years ago, in order to address quality of life issues in the City).

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