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Can public transit boast peace and quiet? Add to ...

New Jersey’s “Quiet Commute” program is causing a lot of noise – in the form of angry, librarian-esque shushing.

The local transit authority launched “quiet” train cars in September, expanding the program earlier this month. The first and last cars of many trains have been designated as quiet during peak-hours on weekdays.

People riding the cars are asked to turn off the sound on all electronic devices, turn the volume down low on their headphones and refrain from using their cell phones. They’re also asked to conduct any conversations in “subdued voices.” But some riders are getting hardcore and squealing for complete silence.

Conductors have been forced to play soccer referees on their trains, rebuking boisterous riders with cards essentially telling them to shut it.

It isn’t the first attempt at creating a hushed, cell-phone-free zone on transit. Amtrak introduced quiet cars in 1999, but it appears similar tensions exist on those trains, as this blogger writes.

The Austrian town of Graz moved to ban cell phone use on all public transit in 2008.

“I know I insulted the cell phone goddess a little,” Graz Mayor Siegfried Nagl said at the time. “But people need to know they don’t have the right to be on the telephone permanently and constantly ...It’s just not healthy to never be able to get any peace and quiet.”

France, meanwhile, created phone-free “Zen Zones” on high-speed trains. Sweden’s Stockholm Transport tried launching silent spaces as well, but cancelled the program after just 10 months: “It relied on people showing respect, but it didn’t really work,” spokesman Bjorn Holmberg told media at the time.

So tell us: do you do like to do business on your cell phone on public transit, or possibly have that screeching fight with your boyfriend via Blackberry on the bus during rush hour?

Or do you keep all calls to a hushed minimum, recognizing that the street car is your audience?

Send us the strangest conversations you’ve overheard.

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Follow on Twitter: @ZosiaBielski


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