Beyond The Bar Car: 5 Ideas In Themed Rail Cars

The Metro-North Bar Car

The Metro-North Bar Car (Taken by Twitter user @jzaslav)

There’s been a lot of buzz about the end of bar cars on the New Haven line of New York’s Metro-North railroad. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs NYC’s public transit systems, discontinued the booze cruisers last week to make way for newer trains.

Though the idea of the bar car may seem novel, it’s not the first time a train has been re-purposed for commuter activities. Here are five other ways riders and transit operators have switched up their commute:

1. The Singles-Only Car

In hopes of helping Czechs find love in the big city, Prague transportation officials announced a program last summer that would dedicate one car per train for singles in hopes of facilitating some mass transit matchmaking, according to The Atlantic Cities. A spokesman told a reporter that the program would give commuters the time and place to find love amid their busy careers.

2. The Quiet Car

Less exciting than the singles car, but fervently loved by its advocates, is the quiet car. They’ve been a feature on Amtrak’s Acela trains between Boston and Washington for years.

In 2011, New York’s Long Island Rail Road designated the westernmost car of a train as a “quiet car.” Customers riding in this car are asked to silence and refrain from using electronic devices, keep their headphones to a tolerable volume, and speak in a subdued voice.

After a successful pilot in 2011, the program was later expanded in June 2012. The Quiet Car is voluntary, so the rules are mostly self-enforced by riders on the train. However, according to MTA’s website, conductors will hand out “Shh” cards to customers who can’t take a hint.

3. The Talk Show Subway Car

Members of Improv Everywhere, a “prank collective” in New York, turned a NYC subway car into a late night talk show set last May. The stunt was complete with an anchor who interviewed confused subway riders, as well as a one-man band. A stage manager even held up an “applause” sign to rope riders in as the audience.

4. Laughter Therapy on the Subway

A good subway performer might fill a train car with laughter, but that’s not quite how the Berlin Laughter Project does it. The project, which believes in the therapeutic value of laughter, regularly fills subway cars with giggling performers, in hopes that their contagious act will spread to their fellow commuters.

Organizers find that laughter can relieve stress and increase happiness among urbanites. The group also hosts workshops, dance parties, and laughter yoga.


5. The No Pants Subway Ride

One of the more recognizable subway activities across the country, the No Pants Subway Ride has become a popular event, expanding to over 60 cities in over 25 countries since its 2002 debut in New York City. This year’s took place in January.

Another event run by Improv Everywhere, the No Pants ride encourages its tens of thousands of participants to leave their pants behind as they hop on the train in the middle of the winter.

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