Music in the LA Metro could be harming employees

Photo credit: Kaique Rocha

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

As a researcher on the adverse effects of elevated train noise on children’s learning, I tend to pay attention to articles focused on mass transit and sound. However, I did not expect to be reading about a transit system willingly imposing loud music on its workers and passengers. This article by Joe Linton informs us that the Los Angeles Metro hired a consultant to determine whether the music it was playing at its MacArthur Park Station was harming employees.

In February of 2023, Metro began blasting loud music in the station. When there was criticism of the loud music, Metro lowered the level. But according to this article, the sound is still loud on the station’s platforms. The sound level is lower during the day and louder at night. According to the report, the music was at 80 decibels at the station platform level.

So why is Metro playing loud music? The company hopes it will discourage homeless people from occupying the stations. The agency claims that the loud music has reduced the number of homeless people at the station, and it wants to expand the program to several other stations. However, Los Angeles City Councilmember Eunisses Hernandez does not believe that loud music will have an impact on homelessness. The homeless will seek out places where there is no loud music, he said. He also questions whether punitive measures really address the causes of homelessness.  

Metro wants people to know that it is also funding a program to enhance several of its stations. The article ends by stating that the “headache-inducing but not-quite deafening racket” at MacArthur Park Station continues. Interestingly, Metro interrupts the music for announcements. One of them reminds riders that “loud music is prohibited on trains and in stations.” Yes, you read that correctly. If individuals are told that they cannot play loud music on trains and in stations, one would think the transit agency would abide by the same rule.  

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