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America's last commuter train for grown-ups just rode into the sunset
May 9, 2014 6:00 PM   Subscribe

"The last commuter train in the US with a built-in bar has just departed, one last time before it's being taken out of service, possibly forever.".

"On Thursday, the regulars were left to reminisce, toasting the traveling Christmas parties and medium-stakes sports wagers, softball league allegiances forged on the rails and love stories that owed their start to the spirits of the New Haven line."
posted by jenkinsEar (25 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
noooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Seriously, the drinks were overpriced and it kind of smelled, but getting on the train and finding out it had a bar car could just fix my afternooon like nothing else
posted by Jon_Evil at 6:03 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


Dude, you could also just buy beer or booze from a corner store (for a much lower price) and sit in a more comfortable seat. I did it hundreds of times.
posted by jonmc at 6:08 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


There goes another benefit to not just driving everywhere. I'm thankful that here in the Bay Area, cocktails are still available on our commuter ferries, at least.
posted by obloquy at 6:10 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


.
posted by entropicamericana at 6:24 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


SO would find so many wallets fallen out of so many businessmen commuters who just passed out going home on that line.
posted by The Whelk at 6:32 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


jonmc: "Dude, you could also just buy beer or booze from a corner store (for a much lower price) and sit in a more comfortable seat. I did it hundreds of times."

Yeah, but the point of the bar car is that it puts all the noisy people in one car!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:58 PM on May 9 [13 favorites]


Dude, you could also just buy beer or booze from a corner store (for a much lower price) and sit in a more comfortable seat.

By the same logic you can go to a corner store and sit on a park bench. But it lacks the romance of a really good bar (never mind a really good bar car).
posted by IndigoJones at 7:00 PM on May 9 [7 favorites]


jonmc: Dude, you could also just buy beer or booze from a corner store (for a much lower price) and sit in a more comfortable seat. I did it hundreds of times.

Says Mr. Moneybucks, who's too high and mighty to make pruno in a bucket out of over-ripened half-price fruit.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:19 PM on May 9 [20 favorites]


When Metra closed the bars themselves, they kept running the bar cars on at least one line and people carried on as before, with their own alcohol. (You can drink on Metra except on, IIRC, New Year's Eve, St Patrick's Day and during Lollapalooza.) I doubt they're still running the cars, as it's been like five years.
posted by hoyland at 7:35 PM on May 9


I've read too much Cheever and Updike and Moody to picture how WASP dads are going to get from Manhattan to Fairfield County every night now without that liminial space.
posted by blue suede stockings at 7:44 PM on May 9 [5 favorites]


Yeah, but the point of the bar car is that it puts all the noisy people in one car!

Hey we have the same thing out here with Quiet Cars, which is where all the noisy people sit.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:14 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]


Oh my god, they used to have bar cars on commuter trains?

Would would you ever get rid of that. Oh man, back in the day that must've been packed with cigarette smoke. That sounds like an amazing way to unwind coming home from work.
posted by pmv at 9:44 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]


One of the weirdest experiences I ever had was riding in an empty New Haven line bar car on Saturday morning. Much like being in NYC's financial district after dark on a Sunday, it felt like a Twilight Zone episode where all the people suddenly disappear. It was more than a little disconcerting, as the complete absence of people in a setting specifically designed for conviviality made me feel lost and alone, which never happens to me run of the mill empty train cars.
posted by KingEdRa at 3:12 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


There used to be a number of pubs and bars open on the London Underground - not on the trains themselves, but at platform level. There was even a Circle Line pub crawl. No more - and t's now illegal to drink alcohol or have an open container of booze on London Transport.

All gone, like beers in the train.

However, the best train bar I know - it's not on a commuter route, although people commute on it - is on the Scotrail sleeper service that goes to and from various bits of Scotland and London. Not only is it a proper bar with excellent service, but as it's the way a lot of MPs get to and from Westminster, it has a well-planned (if small) selection of whisky.
posted by Devonian at 5:32 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]


The last commuter train in the US with a built-in bar has just departed

This is actually incorrect. Amtrak commuter lines, like Capitol Corridor, still have cafe cars, right?
posted by ryanrs at 5:35 AM on May 10


Devonian: "There used to be a number of pubs and bars open on the London Underground - not on the trains themselves, but at platform level. There was even a Circle Line pub crawl. No more - and t's now illegal to drink alcohol or have an open container of booze on London Transport.

All gone, like beers in the train.


I've seen things you people wouldn't believe.

However, the best train bar I know - it's not on a commuter route, although people commute on it - is on the Scotrail sleeper service that goes to and from various bits of Scotland and London. Not only is it a proper bar with excellent service, but as it's the way a lot of MPs get to and from Westminster, it has a well-planned (if small) selection of whisky."

Yes! Absolutely the best way to get to London or back to Scotland. Roll up to the station at 11, have a bottle of wine, bed, wake up in a new city. And now you can even get a bacon roll with your breakfast box.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:09 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


pmv: "Would would you ever get rid of that"

I have this secret suspicion that we Generation Xers and Millennials are not that much fun. Everyone I know is out training for marathons and barely drinks at all after turning 30. Teen pregnancy is way down. Reliable condom use is way up. Smoking is way down. Nobody gets drunk at work. It's as if in reaction to the Boomers having so much sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, we've decided to carefully confine our sybaritic pleasures to responsible boundaries, which sadly doesn't include drinking on the way home from work.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:10 AM on May 10 [11 favorites]


Eyebrows, thinking responsible != fun is a false non-equivalency that boomers (and others) use to justify being irresponsible. Keep on keeping on and don't buy it.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:40 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]


I have this secret suspicion that we Generation Xers and Millennials are not that much fun. Everyone I know is out training for marathons and barely drinks at all after turning 30.

Hey, who you callin' we?

Teen pregnancy is way down. Reliable condom use is way up.

... This is not what I would call anti-fun. At all.
posted by asperity at 7:05 AM on May 10


The NE Regional Amtrak trains through VA still serve beer and wine. It's only a $3 upcharge from the VRE commuter train to upgrade your ticket to get home (in my case) 30 minutes quicker, with beer. Not a bad deal at all.
posted by COD at 7:42 AM on May 10


Last week, I took a train from the west side of my state to the east side on my way to a winery tour in a small town well known for its wine. Most of the passengers were also headed to the same town, for the same reason. They brought wine with them on the train and started drinking at 9am. By the time we made it to town, 3 hours later, the group behind me had consumed 4 bottles between the 4 of them. I know this because they boasted, rather loudly, about their achievement at the conclusion of each bottle.

So...yeah, just bring your own booze.
posted by chara at 8:40 AM on May 10


If anything prove's Eyebrows McGee's point, it's that it was immediately followed by two scolding comments.
posted by spaltavian at 8:50 AM on May 10 [12 favorites]


This is actually incorrect. Amtrak commuter lines, like Capitol Corridor, still have cafe cars, right?

Yes. They also have quiet cars if you want to drink in peace.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:04 AM on May 10


The last commuter train in the US with a built-in bar has just departed

This is actually incorrect. Amtrak commuter lines, like Capitol Corridor, still have cafe cars, right?


I think it's just that no one on the East Coast believes that anyone in California commutes by train.

I always enjoyed the thought that I could buy a glass of wine when the cafe car opened up around 7:15 in the morning, though the problem of arriving tipsy to my first class kept me from actually indulging.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:09 PM on May 10


Two other points:

1. Boomers grew up in a time of such ridiculous bounty that they could fuck up repeatedly and still end up OK. We don't have such luxury. Things are significantly more competitive now across the board.

2. Given that they managed to convert one of the country's greatest economic boons into a defunded government beset by massive income inequality and run by a money-corrupted plutocracy ...I don't give two shits how fun they are.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:44 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]


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