Wanted: More Conversation on the Subway

Friday, January 14, 2011 - 06:06 PM

Urbanist, Alex Marshall has a proposition for New York City Transit: add a conversation car to subway trains. In his gentle modest proposal published in the Daily News, Marshall waxes nostalgic for a day before iPods and kindles invaded the frenetic but friendly subway.

"Subway cars now resemble libraries or monasteries. That's why the recent altercation over New Jersey Transit's Quiet Commute program, with commuters arguing over the precise definition of what constitutes "quiet," is especially silly. With a pair of earbuds, we can all have as much solitude as we'd like.

"But what about someone who wants to engage in an activity that used to be normal: talking to the stranger next to him or her? What if, instead of treating your morning commute like a yoga retreat, you actually wanted to take a (wholesome, noncreepy) interest in one or two of the several thousand human beings around you. Where's the car for that? Where, on your bus or train, do you go for decent conversation?"

Have we lost a social space in the subways? What do you think?

Read the rest of his argument here.

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