Those often irritating words, "Can you hear me now," may soon be a thing of the past on many NJ Transit train cars.
Starting after Labor Day, the agency will try out "Quiet Commute Cars" on its Northeast Corridor express trains between Trenton and Manhattan.
Cars at the beginning and end of each train will be declared cellphone-free zones (at least for talking and if you don't use headphones, for games, and music, and movies, and YouTube and... well, you get the idea).
Ask Chad Godbout of Manhattan if he will use the new cars, and you get a "Definitely."
Anthony Branker of Princeton also likes the idea, while admitting to sometimes using his cell phone on board.
"Occasionally my wife will call me to pick up my daughter," said Branker, who added "I have no choice in that matter."
Amtrak has had Quiet Commute Cars for a decade, and it spread to other railroads such as SEPTA which serves Philadelphia.
But NJ Transit said it will be the first commuter rail line serving Manhattan to offer these "no talking" zones.
The agency's Customer Advocate, Sandra Check, herself a daily rider, said the move comes after many complaints from commuters who were tired of being subjected to neighboring passengers' chatter.
"It's those prolonged conversations at really high levels that become problematic," Check said.
So the Quiet Commute Car concept has become music to the ears of NJ Transit officials, and if the 90-day trial period works, the agency's Executive Director James Weinstein promises to expand them to all of its trains.
But there will be no fines or forced removals from the trains for those who can't help themselves.
Weinstein said it will be "self-policed" and added "We're not turning our conductors and our trainmen into hall monitors."
Instead, insistent talkers will simply be asked to move themselves to another car.
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