CTA quiet car might be nice, but spirited conversation rules

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.

CTA quiet cars.JPG

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.


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  • I don't think a quiet car would work so well on the CTA. The experience is different from Metra (shorter time on board, more frequent stops, no conductors). The current rules are sufficient; I just wish more people would follow them and not yell on their phones or blast music out of their earphones. Many still seem to forget their phone will carry their voice without yelling. Or maybe the subway is just not the best place to talk on the phone and be intelligible to the person at the other end.

  • Like Scott already said, quiet cars make a lot more sense on the Metra where a 1.5 hour ride isn't out of the question. Besides, people don't follow the rules about no peeing, smoking or leaving your trash everywhere on the CTA, a quiet car has a snowball's chance in hell.

  • I agree. In an ideal world, Id say this would be a great idea, but in our world, it will be just another rule that rude people who were not raised right will ignore. No one there to enforce the rules will lead to passengers trying to enforce the rules themselves, and more fights and conflicts and stress on the CTA. Civility is dead.

  • The noise level is the least of our problems on the CTA.

    I once again propose there be designated cars for behaving like low-class jerks and for behaving like ladies and gentlemen. Either one is open to anyone of any age, ethnicity and gender. It is strictly self-selecting, according to whether or not you wish to show respect for fellow passengers and yourself.

    Of course it'll never happen, but it's nice to imagine. Let's see, how would the cars be identified? With a collection of stylized icons depicting examples of contrasting behavior?

  • I don't know who that guy studied, but I do not want people bothering me on my commute unless I know them. I'd rather read or listen to music than engage in pointless small talk!

  • On the CTA, I'd settle for a no bums car rather than some sort of quiet car. There is no such thing as quiet on the CTA.

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