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Share your voice: Vote on "Quiet Car" concept

Last week I wrote about the "Quiet Car" on the Hiawatha Amtrak train to Milwaukee. The rules are simple: Quiet talking only and NO cell phone use.

Some of you thought it was a good idea. Others felt it was just another rule that the CTA would not be able to enforce.

Personally, I think it's a great idea, that WILL be enforced by riders themselves -- kinda like the "no smoking" rule. The few times I have seen someone smoking on a train car, riders have told the guy or gal to put it out. I think the CTA just needs to advertise the new feature, put up signs in the car -- it should probably be the last car on every train -- and see how it works out.

What do you think? Vote below, if we get enough votes in favor, I'll present the findings at a CTA board meeting and ask for a pilot project.


I think there are far more important things to demand from the CTA about the interior environment of L cars, like cleanliness. How about a "No Pee Smell Car", or a "No Chicken Bones on the Floor Car"? I really can't care how quiet my L car is when it's taking all my energy to perch on the edge of my seat in order to keep the festering goo in the center of the seat well off of my pants.

Besides, considering how loud the L is anyway, what on earth would a quiet car matter?

I agree with Mike. The benefit of a quiet car is so small that it's not worth having one whole car out of six or eight be designated for no cell phone use. And it doesn't make sense to prohibit cell phone conversations when in-person conversations are allowed. There's a lot more annoying things on the CTA than cell phone usage like solicitations, dirt/filth, graffiti, etc, and those issues should be addressed first.

I'm confused -- I have a firm opinion on "yes" or "no," but my reasons do not match the reasons given. What should I do?

I would be in favor of a no "what the hell is that on the floor??" car.

Having ridden the quiet car to and from Milwaukee several times, it's kind of nice to not have the extraneous noise that comes from loud conversations, cell phone usage, and drunk baseball fans. I would also like to have a "Pee-Free Car," but it seems like everyone should have access to that, not just the folks who are lucky enough to get a seat on the last car.

Unlike Metra, you can't move between cars on the L, so if you needed to make a call or got on the quiet car by accident (which would happen a lot, since people--well at least me--are frequently running to catch the last car on the train) you'd be stuck.

The Metra is for big hot shot suburbanites who have their laptops and their important thoughts. The rattly noisy L is for real Chicagoans. We can cope with a few cell phone calls--and if we hear really interesting stuff we have this site to post it on.

Can I vote no--I'd prefer they started enforcing the no eating, no drinking, no peeing on the trains rules first?

I've seen people moving between cars all the time. Albeit they are usually the people who hit you up for money then move on. Maybe they were just searching for the quiet car.

"The Metra is for big hot shot suburbanites who have their laptops and their important thoughts. The rattly noisy L is for real Chicagoans. We can cope with a few cell phone calls--and if we hear really interesting stuff we have this site to post it on."

So it's "urban" to not be annoyed by that crap?

I guess I'm a hillbilly, then.

Anyway, I vote YES, and I just might make my OWN "Quiet Car" with a portable cell phone jammer.

The Metra is also for people who prefer a reliable, professional, well-run form of transportation.

Metra does not have quiet cars. Amtrak does.

I am all for a no cell phone car. I don't think it would be too easy to enforce, but I think it's a good idea. This morning I was sitting across the aise from two women who were yelling into their phones for 25 minutes. It absolutely ruined the commute for me and about 20 other people.

Big difference between that and having a conversation with the person sitting next to you.

Make the call when you get off the train. Or get off to make the call. The world will keep spinning if it waits a few minutes.

LAC, you may see people moving between the cars all of the time, but there's a guy here at work who has been ticketed twice now for doing that. They are randomly enforcing that rule.

Kevin, CTA "pilot projects" can't be instituted by a common sense request brought to the board by riders. Rather, they have to hire a $100,000 consultant (preferably related to someone on the board) to write an unreadable 100 page report without any input from people who actually use the system.

I have to vote no just based on the impractiality of the idea. Going to work and coming home I get on which ever train I can fit on - choosing a silent or non silent train just wouldn't be an option at all most days. Most annoying people on trains just need to learn the basics of being considerate of other people, and setting aside a quiet train won't do anything to help them learn that.

although i am frequently annoyed by so many other common cta pet peeves, i've stated many times that this issue doesn't bother me, and yes, i am sometimes the chick on the cell phone and even talking about AA recovery or some crazy shit that happened last night, or something else "personal" that people seem to act like their ears will burn off if they hear.

this always strikes me as odd only for the fact that i've occasionally been on a car with some rambunctious teenagers who were MUCH louder than any cell phone talker and MUCH more disruptive (e.g. physically) and/or irritating. or the "i'm hongry" blind man. or people with a crying baby. yet, i never hear people complain about those near as much. it's the cta, it's just something we deal with and ignore, ey?

that issue aside, i also think it's hit or miss. while there have been these times when my ride is crazy and loud and wild, there also have been times where it has been ridiculously serene. i rode the 146 express bus from michigan ave to roscoe the other day. it wasn't until we hit belmont that i realized... the bus had been pindrop quiet the WHOLE time. no one was talking or making any kind of sound. and it was one of those huge extendo buses, too. we were all in our own meditative zone out stage, watching the lake or reading or listening to music or whatever. the bus wasn't very crowded so we were all fairly spaced out from front to back as well. it was really sort of odd. i've had moments like that on the el, too.

you win some, you lose some.

since so many people, especially leaving work, depend on their travel time to communicate with others, i would expect people would often avoid the quiet car leaving all of the others even more crowded.

also, the train is a noisy place even when it's empty. people who live in the city should be used to dealing with other people and unpleasant noises.

ummmm... quiet car on the el? this is the same CTA we're talking about right? the one where you can be the only passenger in a car and still go deaf by the ride's end? the one where you're exposed to +100db levels caused by grinding and shearing metal friction seemingly everlasting on most trips? the one where you have the volume maxed out on your mp3 player and you still can't make out the words during the turn between Chicago and Grand on the Blue line?

yeah, quiet car on the el... i'm all for it, but I don't think it'll even happen with the new ones in 2010.

The morning rush on the Red Line is usually pretty quiet. This morning, my car was pin-drop quiet, except for one guy eating a bag of Cheetos and loudly licking his fingers about every minute. Even though I would never had noticed him had it been louder on the train, I was annoyed by him since it was otherwise so quiet.

Since the annoyance of noise is relative to the surrounding environment, I doubt a "quiet car" will ever be truly quiet. A "no-cell" car would make more sense, but I would rather the CTA expend the expense and effort on other quality of ride issues.

I think I agree with most of the people here. I think you'd just end up trading one annoyance for another in the end. Like some said...if the CTA can't even enforce rules already in place what will make the "quiet car" any different. Noise and annoyances are part of life, especially city life, if you want quiet move to the boonies.

I have to vote no because what if the train decouples and you need to call work to tell them you're running late? I would like to see a ban on people using their walkie-talkie phones to have random conversations saying curse words every other word (while their 5 year old child sits right next to them).

Anyway, if they ban it would they really enforce it? Let's see them enforce some of their other rules like no smoking, eating, drinking, littering, writing on public property.....Where are these marshalls they keep talking about?

Come on now, are we going to have a no talking car too. People just don't like that they can only hear one half of the conversation.

I think this would be better on metra then the cta. Personally, i have to use my phone on the train for work now and then but I don't talk like a loud jerk like some people.

like someone else said -- how about a purely mute car? no conversations allowed. you, seriously, get bothered by someone talking on the cell phone? and that's different than someone just talking in general? deal with it! or get some headphones (this coming from someone who doesn't even own a cell phone to begin with..)

Seriously, the major problem with this is people running for the train. What...you come up the stairs and get caught on the Quiet car because you just hit it? It's not like you choose that car, you just run to the first one.

If conductors start looking and understanding as people run for cars they might have to go one further to avoid the Quiet car.

Also, I can see it now. It becomes so successful, they institute the Quiet train. Now, the Quiet train derails, everyone grabs their phones to notify the text message service, but since the phones are blocked no one can tell anyone else what's happening! :)

About the Metra cars: In the middle of every car are stairs on either side (for embarking/debarking) of a small, central platform. This is where one should go to have a long or loud cellphone conversation. This area is, for the most part, audibly separated from the seating areas.

Metra also has many signs that tell riders to keep cellphone conversations short and considerate. Most riders on Metra are considerate and the rush hours that I've ridden Metra (UP West) are some of the quietest rides I've experienced.

No one is suggesting making entire trains quite. Just one car. If you really need to yack on your cell the majority of the cars are still open for you.

As to those who think using a cell on the “el” is some sort of marker of urban coolness, I’m lost – do you really judge people based on what kind of public transit they use? I’m shocked at how rude some of the pro cell phone respondents have been (or should I be since they are rude enough to use a cell in public?) And here I thought Chicago was friendly. I guess all the nice people moved to New York and L.A.?

it's a GREAT idea but there is no way to enforce it.

for the most part rude cell phone use is a generational thing. people that have grown up in the cell phone era don't have a clue how rude it is. they think it's perfectly normal.

follow these same people around off the train and you'll see they just don't have much regard for personal space anywhere they go.

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