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Metra Ready To Test ‘Quiet Cars’

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A Metra Commuter Train (Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

A Metra Commuter Train (Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Next month, Metra will begin its test of “quiet cars” along the Rock Island Line.

On Jan. 10, the front and rear car of every Rock Island train will be a “quiet car,” meaning no loud conversations or noisy headphones.

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Metra Director Bill Tupper said that cell phones are to be switched to vibrate in quiet cars, with incoming calls to be taken in the vestibules, not in the quiet car itself.

He also said conductors will receive little business cards to hand out to customers. The cards feature a logo like a librarian’s finger over the mouth in a “be quiet gesture.”

But conductors won’t be the only ones enforcing the rules.

“The other people on the train contribute to the enforcement and will politely mention to the person that ‘This is a quiet car, can you take your conversation someplace else,’” Tupper said. “Once the person realizes that they’re the only one talking in a car it’s going to stand out a lot more than if there’s 10 other people talking on the phone.”

The first and last Metra cars along the Rock Island Line will be quiet cars, totaling about 40 trains a day.

The program would be expanded to other Metra lines if the three-month tryout proves a success on the Rock Island Line.

Metra wants to see if introducing the quiet car concept leads to crowding on some cars and empty conditions elsewhere.

Tupper said he is taking guidance from New Jersey Transit, which has been testing the concept and intends to roll it out system-wide in January.

He said he fully expects to roll it out eventually system-wide, at all hours.

While New Jersey Transit has brightly-colored exterior wraps on its quiet cars, Tupper said Metra’s test cars will merely have on-board signage. He said the Rock Island District was chosen because all of its trains are serviced at one location, and because the line is one that is owned by Metra.

Tupper said testing the concept on lines owned by Union Pacific and the BNSF Railway – and operated under contract to Metra – would have been more complicated.

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