March 27, 2012

Long Island Rail expands quiet car program

The MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) is expanding its Quiet Car pilot program to include all peak hour trains on the Far Rockaway Branch and select rush hour trains on the Hempstead, Long Beach and West Hempstead branches beginning April 2. 

Under the expanded pilot program, all morning and evening rush hour trains on the Far Rockaway Branch will have a designated quiet car, including those operating to and from Penn Station — previously the pilot on the Far Rockaway Branch was only for rush hour trains operating between Far Rockaway and Atlantic Terminal. On the Hempstead, Long Beach and West Hempstead branches, the expanded pilot will provide for quiet cars on rush hour trains to and from Atlantic Terminal only.

Another important change in the LIRR’s Quiet Car Pilot program is that the westernmost car on the train will now be the quite car effective April 2. In the LIRR’s initial pilot, the quiet car was the easternmost car.  

As a result, the FIRST (or head) car on selected AM peak trains and the LAST (or rear) car on selected PM peak trains will be designated as quiet cars for customers on the Far Rockaway, Hempstead, Long Beach and West Hempstead branches seeking a quiet environment during their commute that is free of cell-phone conversations, sound from other electronic devices and loud conversations.

“We have seen a very positive response to our initial quiet car pilot on the Far Rockaway Branch,” said LIRR President Helena E. Williams. “As we expand the program to now include rush hour trains to and from Penn Station on the Far Rockaway Branch and new quiet cars on three other LIRR branches to and from Atlantic Terminal, we will closely monitor customer reaction.”

The expanded pilot program will be voluntary in nature with customers self-enforcing. Conductors in designated quiet cars will hand out special "Shh" cards to customers who are non-compliant.

Announcements will be made on the trains that contain Quiet Cars, informing and reminding customers of the location of the Quiet Car and its restrictions. Customers in the Quiet Cars are asked to refrain from using cell phones and pagers, and to disable the sound on all electronic devices — including computers. If headphones are used, they must be at a volume that cannot be heard by surrounding customers.

Customers can converse in the Quiet Car but they must use subdued voices.

The Long Island Rail Road will continue to gauge customer reaction to the pilot program and decide whether to expand it further.

Similar pilots on select Metro-North Hudson and Harlem line trains that began last fall and on the New Haven Line earlier this year are being expanded to all peak trains. Additionally, a quite car program on Metro-North’s West-of-Hudson Port Jervis and Pascack Valley lines conducted in conjunction with NJ Transit was well received and was subsequently expanded to all peak trains. Amtrak has also successfully implemented quiet cars.

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