Janet Babin, Economic Development Reporter, WNYC News
Janet Babin is a reporter at WNYC covering economic development.
MTA officials are moving forward with plans to make cell phone service available at more subway stations. The next two will be Times Square and Rockefeller Center. Transit Wireless, the company creating the subway cell phone network, says engineering work has begun on both projects, and construction will begin in the spring, with service available by late July or early August 2012.
After those stations are cell phone accessible, Transit Wireless says 5 or 6 stations a month will be added after that. In all, 30 stations will get cell phone service this year. Cell service was first introduced at stations on the Seventh and Eighth Avenues at 14th street, and 23rd Street on the C and E lines.
While it would follow that broader cell phone service could lead to noisier subway cars, a spokesman for Transit Wireless says new data show that might not be the case. Only a quarter of underground cell phone users actually use their devices to talk on the subway. Most – 75% - use their phones for texting and data, like reading online.
Cell phones are becoming increasingly common in subways systems nationwide.