Annoying cell phone conversations coming soon to a platform near youBy
Fade in on a nearly-empty subway station. It’s 2:30 a.m., and you’re stuck at the 2nd Ave. subway stop waiting for an F train that never shows up. Mostly drunk and dead tired, you just want to sit there quietly until the train rolls up to shuttle you back to Brooklyn.
But the air is pierced by an all-too-familiar sound. It’s that blasted Nokia ringtone you’ve come to know and despise. As the loud, obnoxious cell phone user proceeds to shout the amazing details of how a friend just puked all over the bathroom at d.b.a, you can’t help but think about how you wish the MTA had simply kept the subways cell-phone free.
Now, I know what you, reading this on Sept. 20, 2007, are thinking: What a far-fetched scene. The MTA hasn’t been able to get its act together in well over two years of talking about subway cell service. What makes me think they can do it now?
Well, they’ve signed, sealed and delivered the contract with Transit Wireless to wire all 277 underground stations for cell and wi-fi service. Not only with everyone talk on their cell phones, but the cacophonous sounds of Instant Messenger will fill the subway tunnels too. Joy!
William Neuman has the details:
All 277 underground stations in the subway system are to be wired for cellphone use, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced yesterday. But riders may have to talk fast, because the subway tunnels will not be wired, out of consideration for riders who do not want to be stuck in a subway car full of chattering cellphone users.
The company that won the right to wire the stations, Transit Wireless, will pay New York City Transit a minimum of $46.8 million over 10 years, the agency said. The company will also pay the full cost of building the wireless network in the underground stations, estimated at $150 million to $200 million.
In the article, Peter Kalikow, who has been the outgoing MTA chair for months now, says he didn’t want to hear cell phone conversations on the trains. Imagine people trying to shout into their phones over the din of a subway tunnel. The platforms will be bad enough, thank you very much.
The first stations to be wired within two years are in the bastion of plugged-in-ness that is the Chelsea/Silicon Alley area in New York. As The Times reports, the pilot program encompasses 23rd Street and 14th Street on the Eighth Avenue line (A/C/E), 14th Street on the Seventh Avenue line (1/2/3), 14th Street on the Sixth Avenue line (F/V), and Eighth Avenue and Sixth Avenue on the L line. Just wait for all of the Google drones to ramble away on their cell phones after work.
If these six stations are successfully wired within two years, Transit Wireless has four years to complete the project. So start that count down. The days of waiting for the subway in a peaceful silence are numbered.
While this contract is a boon for emergency preparedness, an area in which Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s report on the Aug. 8 flood found the Agency to be lacking, I can’t say I’m looking forward to an era of cell phone conversations in the subway. Call me curmudgeonly but it’s bad enough hearing music blaring out of people’s iPods. What are we going to do when we’re hearing intimate details of last night’s drunken sexcapes through an iPhone instead?
As Jossip put it, the city that never shuts up now has one more place to yap away.
Photo courtesy of Jupiter Images.