Metra’s new quiet cars: boom or bust?
Metra recently rolled out a new concept for riders—designated “quiet cars.”
On January 10, commuters on the Rock Island District line were able to choose to ride in one of two cars reserved as quiet cars. During rush hours, the front and back cars of this Chicago-to-Joliet line are silent, meaning no cell phone talkers, no loud headphones and no audible conversations.
Rock Island is a trial run. Metra is testing the quiet cars on only one line before taking it system wide.
“We expect it to expand. The reason we ran a pilot program is to work out the kinks first,” says Metra spokesperson Meg Riley. They plan to implement quiet cars in all rail lines soon after the test ends in March, as they’ve received mostly positive feedback.
An informal survey Metra sent out to its riders back in October asked for input on whether designated quiet cars might be attractive to riders. They result was a resounding ‘yes.’
“Nearly 90 percent of the emails we got were positive and people thought it was a good idea. And that was with over 1,000 responses,” says Riley.
“I think for the most part people are quiet either way. But you always get people talking on the phone or something like that,” says passenger Joe Fascetta of why quiet cars are needed.
So how quiet is the quiet car? On a recent trip out of LaSalle Street Station during rush hour one car was eerily silent. The loudest sounds were rustling newspapers and the conductor’s hole puncher stamping a passenger’s ticket. Most commuters were quietly listening to headphones, reading or texting. The ride was so quiet a few passengers were asleep soon after the train left the station.
Take a ride on the Rock Island District line and hear passengers’ thoughts on the quiet cars in the report below.