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All Quiet On The Commuter Rail

A T train leaving Park St. station (Chris Devers/Flickr)

A T train leaving Park St. station (Chris Devers/Flickr)

The daily commute offers few creature comforts for the modern-day straphanger. With its cold, hard seats and crowded train cars, public transportation is, for many people, just a way to get from A to B with as little suffering as possible.

But starting next month, riders on some commuter rail lines will find something new to enjoy on their ride: the sounds of silence.

In January, the MBTA will launch a trial run of so-called quiet cars on its Fitchburg and Franklin commuter rail lines. Quiet cars, which forbid cell phones and other noise makers — already exist in other commuter cities, and they’ve become a popular staple on Amtrak Acela trains.

The MBTA’s General Manager, Richard Davey, joins us to talk about the new quiet cars, catching fare evaders , and any of your questions.


  • Richard Davey, MBTA general manager


Other stories from this show:

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  • Paula

    What is being done to improve the air quality in the Back Bay station? The diesel smoke visibly hangs in the air at all times of the year and it is almost painful to breathe when going down to the commuter rail tracks. Clearly this is a health hazard, not only to MBTA patrons, but to the people who work in the station.

  • Samantha

    I wish we could have quiet cars on the T!

  • John

    I applaud quiet cars. Is he doing anything to reduce the number, length, and frequency of announcements at subway stations as well?

    Please don’t promote the quiet car with announcements. I don’t want to hear, “This is MBTA General Manager Rich Davey. Do you enjoy a quiet train ride? Of course you do. Now more than ever, you can participate in our Don’t Say Anything, Don’t Hear Anything program. A quiet car means no talking. So pick up a book or newspaper and put away your cell phones. And as always, thank you for riding the T.”

  • Michelle

    Bravo for busting the fare evader, but something must be done about fare evasion on the green line. There has to be a better way than either making everyone line up at the front door or opening the back doors and couting on people to fight their way to the front in order to pay thier fare.
    I have a monthly pass and try to validate before the t comes, but the validation machines are routinely out of order.

  • Maxine Blank

    Why can’t we get quiet cars on the subway, too?

  • Krista Ferrante

    You would think rush hour trains on the Fitchburgh/Acton line were all silent cars. It’s like there is a secret agreement among riders

  • Mark


    Yes, as bad as the subway noise is, certain types of noise bother people more than others.

    With a cell phone, other people only hear only one side of the conversation. That’s more distracting, because our brains compulsively try to fill in the other side, requiring our attention whether we are interested or not.

    For some reason clicking sounds like keyboards bothers people a lot.

  • John

    No follow-up on this from his last appearance:

    Hello everyone,
    Just wanted to let you know that, as we promised on-air, I compiled all the questions here and ones that were emailed to us. I sent them off to Mr. Davey today and will post his responses as soon as we get them back.
    Thank you for all your questions and for listening.
    Posted by Meghna Chakrabarti on August 23, 2010, at 11:15 AM


  • Jason

    John: That was genius.

  • JT

    I would think that improvement in service, such as keeping trains on time, would have a higher priority. But apparently making one car a quiet car takes a higher priority for the T administration.

  • Richard

    I wish they had quiet cars on the London Tube.
    Its almost impossible to find any a quiet place on them

Hosts Meghna Chakrabarti and Anthony Brooks introduce us to newsmakers, big thinkers and artists and bring us stories of relevance to Bostonians here and around the region. Live every weekday at 3.

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