Metra tests quiet cars on Rock Island Line

January 10, 2011 9:50:19 AM PST
An attempt to help commuters get a peaceful ride started Monday as Metra launched a test run of its quiet cars.

Metra riders who want to be able to ride the train without hearing cell phone conversations or chatter now have their own cars.

If you want to get on board a quiet car there are strict rules. Metra began a three-month trial period Monday morning on the first and last cars of the Rock Island Line rush hour trains inbound in the morning from 6-9 a.m. from Joliet to downtown Chicago and in the afternoon on the outbound route from 3:30-6:30 p.m.

No cell phones are to be used in the quiet train cars. Conversations between passengers are discouraged, but whispers are allowed, and all electronic devices have to be silenced. If you have headphones on, they can't be heard by others. If you must use a phone, you have to go to a vestibule or another car.

One rider said she loves the concept.

"It is nice if you want quiet time. I like to read my prayer book, so that's nice to be able to do that without being disturbed, and it's nice to have other trains for people who like to laugh and talk and chat," said Metra rider Trina Green.

Some people think it is a silly idea for public transportation, but most of the Metra riders ABC7 talked to said they are looking forward to the peace and quiet.

On board a 8:23 a.m. quiet car Monday, the silence was palpable. No conversation, no noise from conversation and no cell phones ringing away.

"I'll be taking them every chance I can get," said Carol Pliley. "I hope they won't be too crowded. It's nice just to get your thoughts together instead of people yelling and laughing and you know, on the phone and phone ringing and you hear all the music."

"People like conversation, and that's fine, but this is an alternative for those who want quiet time in the morning. I like it," said Nancy Williams.

Conductors enforce the rules along with other riders who are expected to tell each other to hush. Conductors discreetly hand out quiet cards to violators.

"There was a woman complaining I was kind of loud, and I talked to the people downstairs. No big deal," said Chris Perdue.

Not everyone wants to enjoy the silence on public transportation.

"You got somebody with you, you come on the train, and of course you're going to have a conversation with them. But to sit down and just have no conversation, no talking, I don't know, I find it you know, kind of silly to be honest with you," said Jimmy Peck.