NJT has announced that,starting next Tuesday (January 20th), all trains will have “Quiet Commute” Cars until 8:00 p.m. on weekdays. Currently, trains running to and from Hoboken have them during those hours, but trains to and from Penn Station Newark or Penn Station New York only have them during peak-commuting hours. The change brings cars where a quiet atmosphere is requested to midday service on New York, Newark, and Atlantic City trains. This includes Midtown Direct trains running during midday hours.
Coalition Technical Director Stephen E. Thorpe, who has led the campaign for the expansion of a quiet atmosphere for riders, hailed the move as a positive step. There is more to be done, however. NJT should make a quiet atmosphere available to riders on all trains, including evening and week-end trains. Quiet conduct by riders should also be required as policy, not merely phrased as a request. The Coalition agrees that these policies should be implemented.
The story was also reported by Larry Higgs in the Star-Ledger (Jan. 16), who quoted Mr. Thorpe as saying he’s happy that the service has been expanded: “My wish is to see every NJT train have a quiet car.” However, Thorpe also pointed out that the service is basically voluntary; he’d like to see it as a firmer policy. “I have been pushing NJ Transit to have clear and simpler language like MARC (Maryland commuter rail), which simply reads NO cellphone or electronic devices that make noise or loud conversation. NJT’s language clearly couches it in terms of a request when they state ‘Customers are asked’.” According to Higgs’ story, online media discussions reveal that some riders are unhappy with the situation, reporting that unruly riders refuse to quiet down even when asked. Train crews, for their part, feel caught in the middle, being expected to enforce what is not official policy. Meanwhile, NJT officials think the current arrangement is working just fine, based on customer feedback.
Read the Star-Ledger story here.