Cell Yell

On the ride home this afternoon, a woman was yelling in some mutilation of English into her cell phone for most of the ride. Everyone around was visibly annoyed. Then I started wondering -- why is someone talking into a cell phone so much more annoying than hearing two people having a conversation on the train? I thought of a few possibilities:

- the frustration in not being able to hear the other side of the conversation;

- the fact that people generally talk louder into cell phones than they would if the other person was sitting next to them;

- a conversation between two people sitting next to each other has natural pauses of peace and quiet;

- people are generally more oblivious to others around them when they are talking on a phone rather than to someone in person.

Any other thoughts? I just feel like logically, if a person is talking on a phone at a reasonable volume, it shouldn't bother me any more than two people carrying on a conversation on the train, but the former grates on my nerves while I can usually tune out the latter.

I've heard that one of the reasons people tend to talk more loudly on cell phones is that (unlike regular phones) cell phones don't play back your voice through the earpiece. This lack of feedback apparently subconsciously makes people talk louder.

Also, I find that cell phones are much less good at filtering out the background noise than a person sitting on the train is, necessitating louder talking. Put another way, the cell phone seems to pick up and transmit a lot of the background noise. I shudder to think what will happen once cell service is available in the tunnels on the BART system!

Me, I generally avoid talking when I'm on the train, as I'm really annoyed by cell yell when others do it, and I'm also really uncomfortable with the thought of all these people listening in on my personal conversation.

Now why can't BART have "quiet cars" like some of the commuter trains I've seen in Europe?

Mikokat's picture

What's the point? BART can hardly regulate them. Unlike BART, the trains with quiet cars (Like even Amtrak!) have conductors that can enforce that rule. BART has BPD, but they won't be on the train every time. It's pretty pointless.

Technology exists for blocking cell signals. I don't know if it would be legal here, but I've heard that in some other countries it is common for devices to block cell signals in some venues such as theaters and churches. If legal, it would be a simple matter to install signal-blocking devices on certain designated quiet cars. I for one would appreciate the relief from cell yell. My guess is that the cellular providers would lobby heavily against any legislation allowing signal blocking.

links for cell jammers were posted to this forum a year ago.

boopiejones's picture

i seem to recall dealextreme.com has them. and a lot of other cool stuff too. i got an ipod charger for $1.50, free shipping from hong kong. they used to carry brass knuckles, but i haven't seen them there lately. brass knuckles are the ultimate cell phone jammer - no batteries needed and highly effective.

Officer Jo-Jo's picture

"brass knuckles are the ultimate cell phone jammer - no batteries needed and highly effective."

They are "highly illegal" too! Click Click! "Don't worry, you're only going to the BART jail!"

Shrapnel's picture

I thought it was a "very funny" joke.

As did I.

cell jammer will jam not only cell phones but also will jam the TO's Radios, I would not recommend you use them on a train.



Bart is on different radio band (453.150MHz last I checked) and cellular is in the spread around the 930-1900MHz range.

Evil Pete: cell phone jammers block cell phone use by sending out radio waves along the same frequencies that cellular phones use. This causes enough interference with the communication between cell phones and towers to render the phones unusable. On most retail phones, the network would simply appear out of range. Most cell phones use different bands to send and receive communications from towers

So, you are half correct, but when you buy one Look at the specs such as this:

System: AMPS, TACS, NMT, GSM, DCS, CDMA, PDC, TDMA, PHS, IDEN, W-CDMA, UMTS, 3G - 800-964 MHz 890-964 MHz 1.700-2.200 MHz

BART Operates on a EDACS Standard with an Analog system voice. Below is an example of BART's radio freq's, the 453.150MHz you quote, is not correct.

DEC AFS Mode Alpha Tag Description Tag
25 00-031 A Fire Tac 3 Fire Tac 3 Fire-Tac
31 00-037 A Fire Command Fire Command Fire-Tac
32 00-040 A Fire Tac 4 Fire Tac 4 Fire-Tac
33 00-041 A Fire Tac 13 Fire Tac 13 Fire-Tac
34 00-042 A Fire Tac 6 Fire Tac 6 Fire-Tac
35 00-043 A Fire Tac 7 Fire Tac 7 Fire-Tac
36 00-044 A Fire Tac 8 Fire Tac 8 Fire-Tac
37 00-045 A Fire Tac 9 Fire Tac 9 Fire-Tac
38 00-046 A Fire Tac 10 Fire Tac 10 Fire-Tac
39 00-047 A Fire Tac 11 Fire Tac 11 Fire-Tac

I do not advise using a jammer on BART or any where for that matter, but so you know a jammer will jam an Analog system, which is what BART has.


I am not advocating the use of jammer on BART or anywhere else (it was brought up as joke, like boopiejones and his brass knuckle collection).

Ok how about this, we all bring air horns on the the train and use them so it will be to loud for anyone to talk on their phone.

boopiejones's picture

Yes, it was a joke. Like I'm really gonna post about beating someone senseless because they used their phone too loud on bart and then actually follow through with it. There are a couple problems with that theory:

1) That's premeditation and I'd get extra jail time. Because of this premeditation issue, I am no longer allowed to knee "left side escalator standers" in the ass either :( I know my rights.

2) I don't even own brass knuckles. I just said that I saw them on cheapchinesecrap.com, not that I purchased a set. You can check my paypal records for proof. I have only bought 16 or 17 ipod chargers and a usb powered nose hair trimmer. That's it. No brass knuckles.

3) As I have posted MANY times before, I have a wonderful set of noise isolating headphones that I wear daily on bart. I can't even hear my seatmate frantically screaming that this is his stop and he needs to get out. How the hell am I gonna hear babysdaddyohnohedidnt from halfway across the car???

If your not gonna bring brass knuckles. I am not going to hold him down for you .

btw: there is one thing worse then "Cell Yell" on BART and that is "Cell Yell" in a bathroom.

A while back, I bought a box of 250 pairs of those foam earplugs for a NASCAR race. They were about $30 for the box. I've started wearing them on BART to filter out a lot of the noise--but not all of it.

There was a lady last week during the morning commute talking very loudly on her cell phone from South Hayward until her calls got dropped going into Lake Merritt. All she kept complaining about was that "nobody ever tells me anything".

They probably can't get a word in edgewise.