Trainquility: Riders like quiet car pilot
On Metro-North: Riders say they like quiet car program
Published 10:25 am, Tuesday, January 10, 2012
At the Harlem-125th Street station, Grant Adusei boarded the first car of the 4:15 p.m. train out Grand Central Terminal hoping for a more restrained atmosphere for his trip to West Haven after his workday at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y.
The train introduced Metro-North Railroad's trial of quiet cars on its New Haven Line.
Adusei said he favors the widespread introduction of quiet cars as a sanctuary for riders from disruptive conversations or loud phone calls.
The volume level can be especially bothersome aboard trains on Friday afternoons, when the coming weekend puts passengers in a less deferential mood, he said.
"I definitely like it," Adusei said as the train passed the Darien station.
John Seeberg, a Fairfield resident who works as a brokerage salesman for a Greenwich company, said he wasn't aware of the pilot program but would opt to ride the quiet car on busier mornings when noise levels were limited on trains if it was available.
"It's mostly loud cellular phone conversations or people who see each other every day talking a little too loud," Seeberg said. "Most of the time the engineers are pretty good at stopping it if it is obnoxious."
Riders in the first car praised the tryout, which will run into the spring to gauge if ridership demand exists to include a quiet car on all morning and evening trains.
The trial, called New Haven Line Calmmute, includes 10 trains between 6:31 and 8:15 a.m. in the morning rush hour and eight trains between 4:15 and 7:05 p.m. out of Grand Central.
Another quiet car passenger, Ricky McRoskey, of South Norwalk, said most riders are courteous and spare their fellow riders extraneous noise, but he said a car dedicated to a quiet ride was long overdue.
"It's usually two or three people who know each other and see each other every day on the train and want to talk," McRoskey said.
Metro-North has gradually been introducing quiet cars across its entire railroad over the past year, beginning last June with First In, Last Out, a program introducing quiet cars on Metro-North trains operated by New Jersey Transit on the Port Jervis Line from the Hoboken Terminal.
On the Hudson and Harlem lines, introduction of quiet cars on rush-hour trains has been well received, according to a Metro-North survey showing 90 percent of 4,300 people surveyed about the cars were satisfied with their operation; the railroad plans to introduce the cars to all rush-hour peak-direction trains.
Jim Cameron, chairman of the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council, which represents train customers' interests, said he expects a large enough contingent to welcome the initiative to justify a permanent introduction of the cars across all rush-hour trains.
In addition to listing the included trains in the printed schedules that took effect Jan. 6, Cameron said the trains included in the trial should be identified on the overhead schedule screens that display upcoming runs at Grand Central.
"I don't think people are going to search out the trains with the quiet cars, but if they hear the announcement there is one on the train, they might act on it," Cameron said.
"I'm hoping it will mirror the success of the trial on the Hudson and Harlem lines."
Estelle Rumely, an administrative assistant who works in Stamford, said she sought out the quiet car on Monday evening's train to listen to jazz music on her earphones while reading a mystery novel, "Drop," by Michael Connelly. Rumely said she likes to use travel time to enjoy reading.
"Sometimes there are loud cell phone calls or people listening to their music so loud on their earbuds that you can hear it," Rumely said. "I'm pleased, and the quiet car is something I'd like to use very much."
If deemed successful, the quiet cars could be adopted on all evening and morning rush-hour trains by April, according to Metro-North.
If operational challenges result in overcrowding on trains, it will be possible for train engineers to suspend quiet car regulations, said Kevin Mahoney, Metro-North's operation manager for the New Haven Line.
Mahoney said he will periodically ride the quiet cars during the trial to monitor for any problems.
"I expect it to be successful, but being a trial, we'll see how it goes," he said.