Update: see previous post – February 6, 2013 GO Trains On Barrie Line to Conduct a “Quiet Zones” Pilot Project Beginning on February 11, 2013
GO Transit’s experiment in quiet commuting may just work, considering the polite and passive aggressive nature of its riders.
On Monday morning — the service’s first day — I boarded the Barrie train, where the upper levels were designated “Quiet Zones,” to test the patience of riders.
Some were reading Quiet Zone pamphlets that explained gadgets should be muted, conversation kept to a minimum and phone calls should be taken downstairs.
I found a seat upstairs, where many people were sleeping and some were texting or reading, and pulled out my cellphone to make a call.
I spoke loudly, waiting for someone to tell me to take my call downstairs, as the pamphlet instructs riders to do — the Quiet Zone is self-policed.
I got cut-eye from many riders around me, but no one actually asked me to quiet down, or go downstairs. Even so, I felt guilty.
Talking away on my phone, as riders shot menacing glances my way and some who were sleeping opened their eyes, I began to whisper.
It felt wrong disrupting fellow passengers trying to get some rest. Some Barrie line riders spend more than an hour in transit.
I moved downstairs, where I was greeted by loud conversation and people boarding the train at our first stop. A voice came over the speakers.
“A reminder the Quiet Zone is now available for those who prefer a quiet ride,” a woman announced. “If you want to chat with friends or on the phone, the lower level is still yours to enjoy.”
I made my way through the throng of people, and climbed some stairs to another upper level, where many were again sleeping.
I again made a phone call, again had people chide me with their eyes for stepping out of line, and I quickly hung up and put my phone away.
Go Transit is piloting the Quiet Zones over the next three months in response to complaints from riders.
Passengers want an area free of loud noise in order to sleep, or do work peacefully, and GO Transit is leaving it to riders to make it happen.
Judging from my ride Monday morning, and speaking with a few passengers, GO riders are considerate and will abide by the rules.
Kristina Cartmill, 19, rides the train every day to go to school at Ryerson University. She sat in the Quiet Zone on Monday.
“It seemed to work today,” she said. “Everyone was pretty quiet.”
Cartmill said it’s usually just a small group of people who are really loud, and if they simply ride below, the experiment should work.
“It’s nice to have some peace and quiet,” she said.