Reminder to commuter-rail riders: It's still technically illegal to punch a mime

Seems MBCR will have mimes stationed in North and South stations this afternoon to help usher in the expansion of quiet-car service across all the T's commuter-rail lines.

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Now we know exactly what

"customer service benefits" the $1 million they are saving by cancelling the late arrival refund program is going to.

And thank you for stating what should be a very obvious question to most people - including the media. Sadly, however, I'm not surprised at all that the T is pulling this stunt (the mimes - not the quiet car). It's straight out of the MBTA and MBCR management playbook - Waste time and money (however minimal) on cheap and superficial measures to divert the public's attention instead of finding lasting solutions to the real and pressing problems they are facing.

Another obvious question that nobody has yet asked is this: Why did it take almost six months to implement quiet cars in the first place? The plan is simplicity itself - the car nearest the locomotive is now the designated quiet car on all peak-hour trains (they should do this on all trains, but that's another story).

It's not like they needed to buy new equipment or anything complicated. And it's hardly a new idea either, as other systems had adopted this concept years ago.

The Problem with Quiet Cars

The "MCBR Way" means that you need to be at a particular door of a particular car to get off a particular stop. If that particular door is in a quiet car, then you better believe that I'm going to make my "train is underway please meet me at the station" phone call, regardless. Not because I'm a jerk - because I have no effin choice!

Unless they plan to open every door at every station, so much for this plan.

Ocassionally being forced to schlepp

through more than one car trying to find a manned exit (which frustrates me beyond no end), I feel your pain.

However, based on my understanding of the rules and my 20+ years of daily commuter rail riding experience, the doors at the rear of the car closest to the locomotive (which is now the designated quiet car) have always been manned (on lines with 'mini-high' platforms, this set of doors lines up with the raised platform).

So this shouldn't be an issue for the quite car. What I see as a issue here is that the conductors can arbitrarily decide to suspend the quiet car rules. Overcrowded train - no quiet car. Two cars less than normal on the trainset - no quiet car. Don't feel like arguing with passengers with 'bleeding' headsets today - no quiet car.

This is also probably one of the reasons they will never expand the program to off-peak trains as well, because it will force the conductor to keep an extra car open for 'quiet' even when there are few people on board the train.

You have no choice?

Entitlement rears it's head yet again. What did you do before cell phones? Or are you so young that you never rode a train before cell phones? Whomever is picking you up can't at least approximate when your train will arrive? You can't make the call before you get on the train? There are many other options.

Reducing Conductors to save cash

Maybe that's why there was only one surly conductor on tonights 6:15 Franklin train.

Perhaps they could use one of the mimes to communicate to the passengers which door the conductor will be opening, so the passengers in the end cars can have time to snake their way though the car to actually make it out the door before the train moves on to the next stop.