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Quiet, please

PATCO plans a "quiet car" experiment

Designating a "quiet car" on PATCO trains may strike some riders as a quaint, if not preposterous, notion.

I think it's great.

Starting March 1, cell phone use and loud conversations will be prohibited in the last car of specially marked weekday trains between Lindenwold, NJ and Center City Philadelphia.

If the three-month experiment succeeds, my colleague Paul Nussbaum reports, PATCO may make this eminently civilized amenity permanent. Amtrak, SEPTA, Metro-North and other transit agencies also are rolling out quiet cars.

A PATCO rider for 35 years, I've watched – and heard -- the trains get clunkier and, sad to say, junkier with age. Elaborate in-car advertisements can't disguise the decline in cleanliness. And what's up with all those increasingly opaque windows? It's like riding inside a smudge.

So I'll be happy when the overhauled cars, featuring groovy new gray-blue interiors, come on line.

The Freedom cards, brighter stations, improved signage and smarter branding already have improved my Speedline experience.

And having occasionally been a captive audience for cell phone melodramas and soap-operas-on-wheels starring PATCO's ruder riders, I'll be all aboard the quiet cars.