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Ins and outs of quiet cars

Railroad’s YouTube video enlightens commuters

By Martine Powers
Globe Correspondent / July 18, 2011

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Really, how hard can it be?

When the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co. introduced quiet cars last month, it seemed like a sufficiently straightforward proposition: Zip it up and turn it down, essentially.

But for the recalcitrant and the unenlightened, the people at the commuter railroad have released a YouTube video expounding on the finer points of quiet car decorum.

The video features clueless passengers, played by the company’s staff, peppering real-life train conductors with not-so-complex questions about quiet car rules: “Can you chat with fellow riders?’’ and “I boarded the quiet car by mistake; what should I do?’’

(Answers: Only if you whisper, and move to another car or appreciate some peace and quiet.)

The video isn’t quite a viral rage: By yesterday afternoon it had 171; Friday night, it had 166 hits.

It’s one of several initiatives the MBTA and the commuter railroad have employed to enlighten passengers about the dos and don’ts of the three-week-old quiet car program, which designates the front coach of commuter trains as noise-free sanctuaries during rush hour.

“I have not yet seen personally any reports of unruly passengers who refused to abide by the rules of the quiet car or didn’t get off the quiet car,’’ MBCR spokesman Scott Farmelant said.

The commandments of quiet car conduct are simple: Nix cellphone chatter. Curb conversations to hushed tones. Lower the volume on blaring headphones.

Passengers who commit quiet car faux-pas receive cards from conductors reminding them to follow the rules or pick a different coach.