A long-delayed project to bring cell phone service to New York City subway stations is becoming a reality as six stations are set to get cell phone service Tuesday.
The signals will cover platforms and mezzanines but will extend only a short distance into tunnels.
Contractor Transit Wireless has five years to set up service at the other 271 stations, and only AT&T and T-Mobile subscribers will initially be able to use the service. Other cell phone carriers are expected to participate soon.
Last week, Gene Russianoff, with the Straphangers Campaign, said he thought New Yorkers will take well to the new service, even if it means a little less quiet.
"This is New York, and people are constantly talking on their cell phones or using their smart phone devices to check the web," he said. "My guess is that this is pretty much going to get to be a standard thing."
Travelers who regularly make their commute late in the evening were also glad to have cell phone access to keep track of subway service changes.
"It's easy to check if the train is late," Amor Patrick from Queens said. "It's very important, especially in the evening." Patrick said she will also feel more secure knowing that she can call emergency services direct from the station platform. The service includes uninterrupted access to 911.
Underground cell phone access could also be a boon for tourists and newcomers to New York who are trying to make their way around the city for the first time.
The launch of the new service coincides with the release of the NYPD latest figures that show a continuing rise in the theft of mobile devices on the subway.
Service is slated for subway platforms along 14th Street at 6th, 7th and 8th avenues, and at 23rd Street and 8th Avenue.
Stations at Times Square, Herald Square and Columbus Circle are next in line to benefit from the service. All 30 stations at these locations are expected to be online within the next 12 months.
With the Associated Press