Call in: Cell Phone Etiquette on Subways

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Peter Rojas, co-founder of, a gadgets and consumer electronics site launched in mid-2009, discusses subway cell phone etiquette.

Call in or comment with your rules for underground cell phone use.


Peter Rojas

Comments [30]


yes! the cell phone jammer block the signal of cell phones perfectly. My jammer was purchased from ,helps me a lot when I'm fed up the cell phone noise.

Aug. 03 2011 03:12 AM
ileen from manhattan

Gene, I like the idea of taking notes, but then maybe give the note to the yakker as you leave. Maybe it will keep him/her from speaking so loudly in public in future.

Aug. 04 2010 01:20 PM
Gene from NYC

There have been times, when I'm hearing a cell phone yakker, that I've taken notes.

If they say, "This is George," I'll note it. If they say, "Amalgamated has a bid in," I'll note it. And if they give their boss' phone number, I'm in!

All this is in preparation for calling that boss and saying, "I just thought you'd like to know that I know all about Amalgamated's bid, and you know why? BECAUSE GEORGE YAKS ON HIS CELL PHONE TOO LOUD IN A PUBLIC PLACE!"

I've taken notes, and gotten all I need, but I've never actually done it, because it always turns out the yakker is some poor ignorant schmuck I wind up feeling sorry for.

But I'm capable of it! Some day . . .

Aug. 04 2010 12:04 PM
jtt from jackson heights

What about the MONEY?

They're going to raise fares a whole bunch for the ever decreasing level of service, and spend the money (our money) on cell phone reception?

Aug. 04 2010 12:02 PM
Curt from Washington Heights

Instead of having "quiet cars" why not reverse it, make the whole train a quiet zone and reserve a car or two for those that want to be loud and obnoxious?

I am not in favor of cell phone coverage throughout the subway system. FCC be damned, I'll start using a jammer when I ride.

Aug. 04 2010 11:58 AM

Apart from just cellphone conversations quietness is increasingly rare. Yesterday I went to Ikea in Brooklyn. In the parking garage we got out of the car and it was quiet. It felt truly alien. As soon as we got into the store there was the muzac.
I've been in so many restrooms where I'm being serenaded while urinating—is there nothing sacred??

Aug. 04 2010 11:58 AM

In the wake of your earlier discussion of noise pollution, we should be less shy about calling this noise pollution.

As an NJT and PATH commuter as well, I'm just about at end end of my rope with all the conversations assaulting me, overly personal or otherwise.

- In a world in which we all have texting, there should be a posted requirement that commuters use texting instead of voice service.

- There should be at least a third of the cars in any series of train cars or subway cars should be quiet cars.

- There should be posted signs that state that if asked folks using cell phones must stop, or risk a fine.

- Part of the fine would be remedial etiquette training.

Aug. 04 2010 11:58 AM
Sandra from Astoria

I was in Paris last month and was blown away to see cellphone usage on the Metro.

Then again, the French are generally much more quiet and reserved than New Yorkers, so look out.

Aug. 04 2010 11:58 AM
Blue Bayer from Lower East Side

I can tell when I am broadcasting my conversation to people around me. I would challenge the people on the subway on cell phones to put the needs of others before the seductive of being the center of attention. I pledge to keep it zipped and hope you will too.

Aug. 04 2010 11:58 AM
Scott from Flatbush, Brooklyn

I just got back from traveling in Europe and Cell service was available almost anywhere I went, while I'm not sure how the MTA plans on paying for something like this it's absurd that we have to catch up on all of the complainers out there welcome to the 21st Century!

Aug. 04 2010 11:58 AM
S Block

OMG who are all these grouchy old public broadcasting curmudgeons. Obviously a lot of people want to use their phones on the subway or it wouldn't be a problem, would it?

Yeah, a quiet car for a 50 minute train ride, but a subway ride in Manhattan? If you don't like living in a living breathing city, move!

You all need peace and quiet for your rides home, so you can watch a PBS documentary celebrating the hustle bustle hurley burley of immigrant manhattan?

Aug. 04 2010 11:57 AM
Jonathan from NYC

Japan has had cell phone service in their subways for years. Ettiquette there however is strictly no talking in the subway. They primarily play games and text friends. Not sure how that would work in NYC though.

Aug. 04 2010 11:57 AM
ange from Queens

In Tokyo, there are subway announcements to refrain talking on the cell phone, particularly around the priority seating. And amazingly, people follow it. Although people don't talk on the phone, they do emails or none-talking features of the cell phone. However, I am not sure how feasible that will be in New York... Although, I am glad that NY is finally joining the other cities around the world.

Aug. 04 2010 11:56 AM
Faith from Rockland County, NY

There already is cell phone service to most above-ground subway cars (I'm thinking of the 7) and the behavior in my experience has been modest and appropriate. The subways is not a quiet place, cell phones or not.

Aug. 04 2010 11:56 AM
Ash in Chelsea

Obviously we will eventually have to do with cell phone users what we do with smokers: Confine them to the streets! I guess we could start with Cell Phone (and iPod) Cars on the subways...

Aug. 04 2010 11:56 AM

What about phones being used to set off bombs like in London?

Why risk it?

Aug. 04 2010 11:55 AM
a g from n j

i'll put my best andy rooney-"don't you just love these bozos,who go on and on,on their little gizmos;giving us one side of a conversation,nobody else cares to listen to. talking so loud,you'd think they invented phones yesterday".

Aug. 04 2010 11:54 AM
Ken from Soho

If someone starts up a loud cellphone conversation in your presence, take it as an open invitation for you to join in the conversation. Give them your two cents!

Aug. 04 2010 11:54 AM
Michael from Brooklyn

I think it stinks! Keep cellphones off the subways. What about the danger of train operators texting while driving? (we know all car drivers do it!) That could be dangerous. We, as people, are becoming more and more obsessed with these darned technological devices and becoming wrapped up in these email worlds. We need some face to face interaction. Subways allow least a little.

Aug. 04 2010 11:54 AM
Tom from Upper West Side

You think a population that won't keep dogs on leashes or clean up after them, that drives while on a cell phone, that rushes up/down available stairways, regardless of which side of the stairway should be used, etc. etc. will obey any new type of social politeness? C'mon!

Aug. 04 2010 11:53 AM
The Truth from Becky

Land of the free, home of the brave!

What we "used to do" is no longer applicable, technology has changed the world. Fact is now we can talk on the phone, in public, we should perhaps do it at a lower volume.

Aug. 04 2010 11:53 AM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

Certainly there will be rude, "loud-talkers" yakking on their cell phone, but many (maybe most?) will be using the cellular signal for texting and smart phone data use, NOT for phone calls.

Aug. 04 2010 11:51 AM

Cell phones in the subway? Just kill me, whydon'tya.

Aug. 04 2010 11:51 AM

Don't put cell phone service in the subway. It is the one place that you don't have to listen to people talking nonsense on their cell phones.

Aug. 04 2010 11:49 AM
Gwen from Brooklyn

Can the MTA reallocate the funds for this project to subsidize fare hikes, please? I'm not sure why this is necessary to implement now.

Aug. 04 2010 11:27 AM
Jim Crutchfield from Long Island City

I don't want cell phone service on the subway. We survived for centuries without being able to talk or exchange messages with everybody in the world at every waking moment. We already have to endure cell phones on commuter trains, and cranked-up iPods on the subway. Why not just bring back boom-boxes?

Aug. 04 2010 10:56 AM
James from Brooklyn

I think people abuse mobile phones. They have their purpose, but I think it's inconsiderate to have a personal phone call in public. I wish more people would say, "I'll call you back when I get home."

Aug. 04 2010 10:33 AM
John from NYC

There is minimal etiquette on the subway as it stands now. Just adding more potential rude behavior into the mass transmit riding experience.

Aug. 04 2010 10:19 AM

how about this: stop useing the stairways to finish your call. stand on the street until you're done.
i hate trying to go up or down the stairs on my way to/from the subway and someone slows me down because they are stopped on the stairs talking on the fone or reading a book while walking up the stairs.

Aug. 04 2010 10:15 AM
stuart from manhattan

First rule: there needs to be a signal to be able to use a cell phone.

Aug. 04 2010 09:36 AM

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