Streams

How Many Payphones Are Left in the City?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Just how much does it cost to make a call on a payphone these days?  Then again, will it even work if you find one?

With more people using cell phones, there are fewer pay phones located throughout in the city. The number of has decreased nearly 50 percent from five years ago.

As of this past January, there were 11,249 payphones in the five boroughs according to the New York City Independent Budget Office.

While city revenue from calls has declined steadily, revenue from advertising on the phone booths has spiked in recent years. Since 2008, advertising revenue has risen from $14.1 million to $16.5 million.  According to Nashla Salas, budget and policy analyst at the IBO, the increase occurred after the city negotiated a new rate whereby it would receive 36 percent of ad revenue instead of 26 percent.But even as the number of phones declines, the city continues to collect money from them: 10 percent of the revenue from calls and 36 percent from money earned through advertisements on the phone booths.

Meanwhile, the city has been trying to reinvent the s remaining payphones and bring them into the digital age.  

Last year, Mayor Bloomberg challenged Silicon Alley to redesign the payphone. In March, a group from the tech community chose five inventive winners from more than 120 submissions.

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications has yet to release an RFP for the designs. 

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