Trains are romantic. It is something about the way the frame of the window glides over the country side, or the passing apartments. It is the movement of the city, the brushing up against others in motion as they rush to the train, and then off the train for home and loved ones. Trains offering a bit of gentle companionship and a mood of romance are rhythmically appealing. A brief exchange cultivates romance or friendship: a short conversation with the store clerk, the librarian, the neighbor, or your neighbor on the metro. Connected as we are in the age of the internet, we often remain isolated at computers.
With the advent of ‘dating’ sites for the single person in want of friendship, companionship, or more, the context of dating took new shape. Some thought it was at least better than meeting someone at a bar. Personally I had a knee-jerk reaction to online dating because it lacks something intrinsically organic and necessary in authentic romance. Prague’s new idea is another choice for those longing for love or friendship, a more naturally occurring circumstance for singles, in transit — a singles car. Instead of making magnetic eye contact and then glancing at someone’s hand to find a ring, one hopes on this train that companionship glides with less ambiguity.
According to a spokesperson for ROPID, Prague’s public transportation system: “People today have no place to meet. Maybe somewhere at parties, or at work. In the metro you can already read and learn, so why not find a partner?” said Filip Drapal.
This singles car is aimed at increasing love, romance, and babies for a city that is composed of few families, as some have presumed.
An article by Muriel MacDonald on TheCityFix has more on the romantic highlights:
ROPID, the organization responsible for Prague’s public transport system, announced in May the creation of a “love train.” More accurately, it plans to designate specific cars on non-rush hour trains as “singles” cars, where lonely hearts can hope to meet other lonely hearts while riding the metro line.
Unsurprisingly, this creative new twist to public transport has met with its fair share of criticism. Ariel Schwartz at Co.Exist argued, “It’s a silly idea, but if it gets more people out of their cars and into trains, why not?” Some commented that these cars were likely to attract stalkers and voyeurs, while others worried that they might be judged for riding the line. The International Business Times chose to focus on another goal of the “love trains” – encouraging young citizens to marry. They describe the plan as a response to declining birthrates and a high population of single people.
Despite these critiques, the main purpose of the “love train” seems to be to encourage ridership, and to draw attention to the many advantages of riding public transport. “We want to emphasize that public transport is not only a means of travel but that you can do things there that you cannot do in your car,” ROPID spokesman Filip Drapal told Reuters. “This idea is just part of a new long-term campaign whose aim is to show what activities you can do in public transport that you cannot do inside your car – like reading, studying, listening to music, playing e-games and checking emails.”
And what a great point this is – you can dance, or chat, or read a book, look at the passing scenery, or take a nap. The advantages of public transport are many, and ROPID has certainly chosen an interesting way to highlight them.
The first “singles cars” are expected to open sometime this fall. Only then will critics and proponents of the plan alike see whether people are eager to board these cars and strike up a conversation.
Certainly, ROPID isn’t the first to dream up the idea that trains or transit are romantic. Movies feature romantic exchanges and chance meetings in trains on a regular basis. Previously the head of an alternative transportation organization, my son and his team created t-shirts with a silhouette of a couple standing at a bus stop with the woman standing in front in the man’s arms. The words on the shirt read, “Transit is for Lovers” (the organization was based in Virginia).
Check out this beautifully romantic scene at Paris Metro shot in the 1960s for more along these lines:
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