[OPINION] Train Crew Should Enforce NJ Transit “Quiet Commute” Policy

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by Rahway Councilman Bob Bresenhan, Jr.

So once again here I sit on a New Jersey transit train on my evening commute from New York City’s Penn Station to Rahway via NJ Transit’s 5:21 p.m. South Amboy local in car 6516. I pay $248 a month or $2,976 annually for what should be a relaxing ride. I and many fellow passengers attempt to enjoy the peace and solitude of the new “quiet commute” cars NJ Transit has instituted in the past year or so. We ride NJ Transit and entrust our safety to the employees of NJ Transit and the State of NJ.

Why is it that lately the conductor on this train, and many other quiet commute trains as reported by friends, is stating that the “quiet commute” car policy is a passenger enforced policy? Why should I or my fellow passengers have to put our safety on the line and tell fellow rude passengers how to behave in the “quiet commute” cars? In these times one never knows who is packing a gun, knife or other weapon. The NJ Transit signs in these cars clearly state “Our train crew is protected by the law of the state of New Jersey. Assault on a train crew member carries a prison term up to 5 years, and a fine up to $7,500.” I and my fellow passengers do not see any guarantee of the safety of fellow passengers who “enforce the quiet commute car” policy.

Shouldn’t this enforcement be the responsibility of the men and women of NJ Transit trains who are paid by taxpayers and commuters? As if this is not enough, friends and I occasionally witness rogue conductors who do not even practice this policy but instead engage in loud obnoxious conversations in these quiet cars with passengers and fellow NJ Transit employees alike. Is it me or shouldn’t these public servants step and perform the services they are paid to perform?

(The author has commuted between NYC and NJ on NJ Transit buses and trains since 1986.)


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  • Frank

    Conductors are not police. In order to insure peace and quiet in the quiet cars NJT would have to put police on every train which would insure an increase in your fare. Conductors can not stay in one part of the train to babysit passengers.

  • Bob

    While I think that this piece is basically whiny, there are some valid points, especially the one about the crew often being the loudest violator of the Quiet Car Policy.

    What I desperately wish is that the policy was VISIBLY announced. Signs, little cards, something. Most of the people who talk loudly in the quiet car don’t know it’s a quiet car and feel mortified when someone politely reminds them. Unless they are the type to get angry. Then you have a situation on your hands.

    I have given up on them altogether. Tension fills the air in the quiet car when someone is gabbing on a cell phone and the rest of was are waiting, wondering who will step up and what will happen when and if someone does. A fight? The call itself bothers me ten times more because it is a quiet car. The non-quiet cars might be louder but they are definitely more peaceful.

    Headphones are the answer.

  • Emanuel

    You claim that if you or a fellow passenger spoke up, you would apparently be assaulted. A conductor is not a police officer. They are not equipped with handcuffs, a gun, a tazer, a bulletproof vest, or any other equipment to make them capable of defending themselves in the event a passenger becomes violent. You believe a poster on the train that says you shouldn’t attack a train crew member is a “guarantee” that a conductor won’t be assaulted? Or do you believe that just because someone is paid to know FRA rules and collect tickets, they should be willing to be assaulted by a passenger who’s not adhering to a silly rule? Some advice: human life is human life, yours is no more precious than the lives of these conductors who have families to go home to. These public servants operate on public trains. The public isn’t always going to act how you want them to. Perhaps you should invest in some headphones and find some bigger, better fish to fry. Sincerely, another NJ Transit commuter.