LIRR expands its 'quiet car' effort

LIRR Conductor Tim Denehy annouces to passengers in

LIRR Conductor Tim Denehy annouces to passengers in the first car of the 4:30pm train from Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal to Far Rockaway that the car is now a quiet car where folks should be mindful of their noise levels during their travels. (Dec. 5, 2011) (Credit: Steven Sunshine)

Travel on the Long Island Rail Road next week gets a little less noisy when the agency expands its "quiet car" initiative to additional lines.

The program on Monday will add a noise-free car to all single-level electric trains to Penn Station and Atlantic Terminal during the morning peak hours and from those stations during the evening rush, railroad officials said Wednesday. Bi-level diesel trains are not part of the expansion.

The initiative designates one car per train where loud talkers, cellphone conversations and noisy electronic devices are discouraged. While the policy is generally self-enforced by passengers, conductors in quiet cars will hand out "Shh" cards to any loud riders.

Noise-free cars will be available on the morning and evening rush on the Babylon, Far Rockaway, Hempstead, Long Beach, Port Washington, Ronkonkoma and West Hempstead branches as well as the Port Jefferson branch west of Huntington.

LIRR president Helena Williams said in a statement that quiet cars have received a "very positive" response from customers.

"We all have been on a train when someone is talking too loudly on a cellphone or playing music on headsets at a high volume," Williams said. "This program gives customers an alternative."

The pilot program started in December with one car on Brooklyn-bound morning trains on the Far Rockaway line. In April, it expanded to Brooklyn-bound morning trains on the Hempstead, Long Beach and West Hempstead lines.

Quiet cars are located at the trains' western end -- the front car in mornings and the rear in evenings. If the LIRR experiences service disruptions, trains will be unable to designate quiet cars, officials said.

Mark Epstein, chairman of the LIRR Commuter Council, said the group has suggested some changes, including making the quiet cars more centrally located on trains -- and better marked -- for easier use. The railroad has no timetable for any further expansions of the quiet car program or to make it permanent, spokesman Sam Zambuto said.

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