Metra expanded its "quiet cars" project to all 11 of its rail lines this week. Metra's website says "the rules are simple":
No cellphone calls. If passengers must answer
their phones, they should make it brief or move to the vestibule or
another car. Conversations are discouraged; if they must be held they
should be short and in subdued voices. All electronic devices must be
muted, and headphones should not be loud enough for anyone else to hear.
I am in favor of the no cellphone rule. As I previously noted: I just want quiet cars so I can
escape this insanity and stupidity of cellers. And you folks narrowly supported CTA quiet cars in an unscientific quick poll on CTA Tattler.
As for limited conversations in hushed tones, after reading about research by a University of Chicago professor, maybe there is a place for conversation.
Nicholas Epley wrote in a Tribune op-ed column that his research on quiet cars shows:
"Commuters asked to interact with other passengers reported having the
most pleasant commute. Commuters asked to enjoy their solitude reported
the least pleasant commute."
That makes some sense to me. Some of my most enjoyable rides on the CTA have been on train cars that were buzzing with people talking excitely to other passengers - not on their cellphones.
Of course, the main problem with cellphones is the conversation is one-sided. The voyeuristic spirit in us wants to know what the other person is saying when you hear the celler say: "I ain't even had sex, why do my legs hurt so bad?" (Well, maybe not.)
What do you think? Take this quick poll based on Epley's research question - with apologies to him, since this certainly is not scientifically valid.