Home Subway Cell Service No cell signal is good news

No cell signal is good news

by Benjamin Kabak

Is there anything more annoying than that person on the Q train during rush hour who whips out a cell phone as the train spends three minutes crossing the Manhattan Bridge? You know who I’m talking about; it’s the person shouting seemingly to themselves as they rush to make a call that could wait until they get off 8 minutes later at Atlantic Ave.

Just think if that person could spend their entire subway commute yapping into their phone. That at least was the plan in 2005. But since then, little to no progress has been made, and The New York Sun reports today that the plan may be dead in its tracks. Here’s what outgoing MTA chair Peter Kalikow had to say:

The chairman of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, Peter Kalikow, said yesterday that he was “not sure” if the agency would complete a deal with one of the four service providers who have submitted bids for the project. “I would hope they’ll come back to use with a revised bid doing it the way we like,” Mr. Kalikow said following an Assembly oversight hearing on the MTA yesterday.

So, Mr. Kalikow, what way might be the way you like? Well, that’s to limit cell phone conversations to the stations only. And why don’t cell companies like that? Money, of course.

Cell phone service providers bidding on the project say wiring stations and not tunnels is cost-ineffective. Phone conversations on subway platforms are too short to bring in any real money.

The cash cow would be the long subway ride that allows for a more substantial use of cell phone minutes.

It would cost millions of dollars to wire the subway stations, and the average conversation would probably last all of two minutes. Luckily, in this case, the economics don’t work, and those riders who just want to find some last solace from the neverending cell phone din can still take refuge in the subways.

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Victoria December 2, 2006 - 10:56 am

I have to believe there’s going to be a point in the not-so-distant future when there’s going to be full cell service in the subways; I know some cities, like Tokyo (and DC?) have it.

Sarah December 3, 2006 - 3:59 pm

Yeah, D.C. has it (better for some service providers than others, thoughit always cuts out in the same place, like going in or out of Union Station). I think it’s great. I can spend the whole ride home, about 20 mins, on the phone with my mom and then say, “Well, this is my stop, I’ve gotta go!” I’ve killed two birds with one stone — commuting and calling my mom, with a built in exit strategy. And so long as I keep my voice low, it’s not an issue. Those loud obnoxious ppl are going to be loud and obnoxious with or without cell phones. Some ppl are naturally chatty and can’t gague the reactions of those around them. I hope they don’t ruin it for the rest of us any more than they already do by making city officials decide against providing cell service in the Subway.

Alan Miles February 21, 2010 - 12:24 am

What’s more annoying than someone talking on a cellphone on the subway is the inability to communicate whatsoever with the outside world when you are on the subway – no texting; nothing.

For that matter, how on earth can cellphone calls be more annoying than, say, a cappella musicians forcing their way through subway cars screaming “Let it Shine, Let It Shine, Let It Shine!” or shaking down passengers “for a quarter – or at least a smile.”

This anti-cellphone crankiness is completely bizarre, especially in the 21st Century.


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