Despite lack of cell signal for emergencies, city phases out subway payphones

Posted at 10:03 PM, Mar 11, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-11 22:19:14-04

Subway riders keep their cell phones close, but if their battery dies or there’s no cell phone service, they look for a pay phone, and many times they’re out of luck.

According to the MTA, only 46 percent of subway pay phones are even working right now at stations, and they are also being phased out by the California company that runs them.

Jason Chin-Fatt is with the Straphangers Campaign, an advocacy group for subway riders.

“The Straphangers Campaign has always thought that riders benefited from having payphones in stations. It allows them to make quick phone calls if they need to make them,” said Chin-Fatt.


The MTA is expanding its cell phone connectivity underground and there are also help sites.  When it comes to reporting an emergency, the signs underground reads “If you see something, say something.”

Chin-Fatt and others want to know if you can’t find an option, what do you do then?

“If you’re really deep underground, you have to make that call, a pay phone would be your answer,” said Chin-Fatt.

The MTA offered the following statement on this report:

“We’re moving forward with cell phone and Wi-Fi connectivity at all of our underground stations and plan on adding Help Points beginning with 102 stations during our current capital program.  These Help Points  are digital instant communications devices that offer customers immediate access to assistance and information with the touch of a button.”