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Metra debuts ‘quiet cars’

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



The blue bumper sticker-sized sign — “Quiet Car Rush Hour Only” — was discreet. Perhaps too discreet. Two women sitting right next to it chatted for most of the morning ride to Chicago.

But it may just have been enough to empower another woman who politely asked her seatmate to turn down her headphones.

“I can hear it,” she told her.

“Oh, sure,” the young lady responded, as she heeded her suggestion.

Metra debuted “quiet cars” Monday on its Rock Island Line from Joliet to downtown and is hoping it will be enforced by peer pressure. Riders on the first and last cars of the inbound trains from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and outbound trains from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. are supposed to keep their electronic gadgets quiet, and their conversations subdued.

So how quiet was the Quiet Car on the 7:02 a.m. train out of Joliet?

There was only the one request for quiet, two subdued conversations and three audible cell phone calls to those who were apparently oblivious to the rule to silence all electronic devices. Ironically, one female passenger who received two of those calls sat next to the display of Metra’s “On the Bi-Level” newsletter headlined “Shhh! Quiet cars to debut.”

Except for the train noise itself, it was an otherwise quiet ride.

Did this displace noisier riders to other cars? No. There were quiet conversations and occasional laughter throughout the train, but nothing to disturb the peace. Most people were reading, texting or sleeping.

Metra is testing out the quiet cars after 86 percent of its passengers responded favorably to them in an e-mail survey. According to Metra, 13.6 percent of those responding to its survey were opposed to quiet cars.

New Lenox rider Lisa Frieri opted not to ride the new quiet car Monday.

“I like talking to my friends,” she said.

Maria Perez, a daily Metra rider, said she’s used to the noise.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” she said.



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