Metro-North rolls out quiet cars
Beginning Monday, New Haven Line riders who like a peaceful ride can take quiet cars on which cellular phone calls and loud games will be banned and subdued conversation expected.
Westport resident Gary Brennan said a quiet area on the train will allow him to doze or read e-mail or news on his iPhone.
"It might create a zone where people can be especially productive or be relaxed," Brennan said.
After a scheduled trial was cancelled in October, a successful run on the Hudson and Harlem lines led the state Department of Transportation to revisit the program.
If introduction of the cars, which will include 10 morning trains and eight at night, goes smoothly, administrators would designate a quiet car on every rush hour train on the New Haven Line in the spring.
"This program has been well received so far and we expect our Connecticut customers to enjoy the respite of this rush-hour only program," Metro-North President Howard Permut said.
Judd Everhart, a DOT spokesman, said the trial will likely last three months and include a survey to gauge commuter response. To reinforce the policy, Metro-North conductors will distribute business cards that read "Shhhhhh" and explain the noise restrictions.
On the Hudson and Harlem lines, introduction of quiet cars on rush hour trains has been well received, according to a Metro-North survey showing 90 percent of 4,300 people surveyed about the cars were satisfied with their operation, and 82 percent said the program should be adopted on all trains. During the trial, the quiet car on designated trains will be the last car in morning trains, and the first car of evening trains, she said.
Terri Cronin, vice chairwoman of the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council, which represents the interests of commuters, said she thinks crowded conditions on New Haven Line cars might curdle public good will toward the test.
Passengers who don't have seats on peak trains, or infrequent riders, should not be required to be silent if they wish to talk, Cronin said.
"If you had a lot cars and a lot of trains it would be different but I think we should wait a little while," Cronin said. ". . . But we'll see how it works out."
An initial trial of quiet cars on the New Haven Line had been scheduled to begin in October, but was delayed by the state DOT because it only included trains on the Danbury line.
Among the 18 runs included in the trial are:
The 5:31 a.m. train out of Danbury, which arrives at Grand Central Terminal at 7:16 a.m.
The 6:26 a.m. train originating in Bridgeport, arriving at Grand Central Terminal at 7:38 a.m.
The 7:05 p.m. train from Grand Central Terminal to New Haven, which runs express to Stamford.
Trains included in the trial can be found on the printed Metro-North timetable. Transportation Commissioner James P. Redeker said he expected the quiet cars to be well-received in Connecticut, as they were in other parts of the Northeast.
"Quiet cars have enjoyed great popularity and success elsewhere in the Northeast and it's time we brought them to Connecticut," Redeker said.
Staff Writer Martin B. Cassidy can be reached at email@example.com or at 203-964-2264.