In an ironic backfiring of good intentions, the expansion of the New Jersey Transit Authority’s ‘Quiet Commute’ Program has forced those seeking total quiet during their commute to work or school in order to read, sleep or just chill out, to instead be making the most noise while they are constantly shushing and hushing and telling people to “please be quiet!”
The conductors are the ones who have the task of keeping things down below a low roar. They have been cleverly accessorized with small cards showing bright red lips with an extended finger over them with the words “Quiet Commute” written below. At the first hint of noise the conductor must hand out the card to the noise perpetrator. The thought was this would be a quiet and polite way to keep things under control.
Problems have nevertheless been surfacing due to a misunderstanding of the ‘quiet’ rules. The strict guidelines do indeed permit a low level of talking, in a ‘subdued’ voice, kind of like in a library. However, many commuters choosing the quiet cars are demanding total silence, and this conflict is the source of all the noise.
“I think the whole concept of quiet cars is ridiculous” said Mr. Arbeeny, 44, of Manalapan, N.J. “People are going to talk, it’s human nature. Many passengers, like the woman who told me to be quiet, are misinterpreting the new rules, and it is having the reverse effect in the quiet cars, creating tension instead of quiet.”