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Transportation Nation

More Cell Phones on NYC Subway

Friday, February 03, 2012

(Photo (cc) by Flickr user Ed Yourdon)

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.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Open Phones: Stage Calls

Friday, January 13, 2012

Alan Gilbert halted a performance by the New York Philharmonic when a cell phone went off and didn't stop. WQXR host Naomi Lewin was there and reports back. Plus, listeners relate stories of performances that have been stopped by ringing cell phones.

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On The Media

Federal Agency advises U.S. to Hang up and Drive

Friday, December 16, 2011

On Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) called for a complete ban on cellphone use by drivers – no texting, no web surfing, no talking – not even on a hands-free device. The advisory is non-binding but states pay close attention to the NTSB. Chairman Deborah Hersman talks to Brooke about the NTSB's decision.

 

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On The Media

The Addictive Properties of Cell Phones

Friday, December 16, 2011

While safe-driving advocates have convinced Americans to wear seat belts and drive sober, there is a school of thought that holds that distracted-driving presents a unique challenge. New York Times reporter Matt Richtel tells Bob that our relationship to our devices is unique because of the psychological hold they can have over us.

Quantic And His Combo Barbaro - Cancao Do Deserto

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On The Media

Changing People's Minds

Friday, December 16, 2011

It’s hard to change behavior behind the wheel.  But there’s a precedent: drunk driving. Candace Lightner founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving in 1980, after two separate incidents where her twin daughters were hit by drunk drivers. She tells Bob about the lessons anti-distracted-driving advocates can learn from the drunk driving movement.

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WNYC News

Wireless Users May Receive Test Alerts Thursday

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New York City-area residents who use AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon devices may receive text and audio alerts from emergency officials Thursday, but they're only a test.

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Transportation Nation

NTSB Head: Distractions Behind the Wheel Have Always Existed -- But Cell Phones Make It Worse

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

NTSB Chair Deborah Hersman

Deborah Hersman, the head of the National Transportation Safety Board, went on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show Wednesday morning to talk about the Board's recent recommendation for a national ban on cell phones.

She also fielded calls from listeners -- like Lisa in Forest Hills, who called to ask about generational differences in cell phone capabilities.  "I'm 45," she said, "and if I try to have a conversation while I'm driving, unless it's with someone physically in the car it's very distracting." So: if you grew up talking on cell phones, is it different?

Hersman said the generational differences have to do with the actual activity, not level of distraction.  She said while older drivers talk more -- younger drivers are different.  "What they're doing much more than talking is texting, or posting to Facebook, or tweeting," she said.

And are hands-free devices safer than holding the phone next to your ear? "What we're concerned about," said Hersman, "goes back to...the cognitive distraction. How the brain is engaged, and not just the hands or the eyes. It's that you're focusing your attention away from the task at hand...accidents develop and happen in the blink of an eye."

To which Brian interjected: "It's Siri versus the NTSB at this point."

Karen in South Harlem called in to say she's often "a completely cognitively alert passenger" on highways between the city and the Adirondacks. Frustrated by the amount of texting while driving she says she witnesses, she wanted to know if she could participate in "a citizen's arrest situation" using her cell phone -- either to call law enforcement or to photograph offenders.

Hersman wasn't willing to deputize passengers, but she agreed that there needed to be a mechanism in place to report on activities like this -- "just like if you suspect someone's drunk driving, making sure those types of things are reportable to law enforcement and they know how to handle those are important."

But the question of what constituted a distraction behind the wheel got the attention of both callers and Brian. Is listening to talk radio distracting? Music? Or eating? Why are those things any less dangerous than talking on the phone?

"Distractions have been around since the Model T," Hersman said, "whether it's people eating, or looking at things on the side of the road or reading billboards...I think there are a lot of distractions but what we're seeing with personal and portable electronic devices is that they're becoming more prevalent, being more used, and people are being more distracted behind the wheel."

You can listen to the segment below, or swing on over to the Brian Lehrer Show page, where you can also take part in the discussion via the comments section.

 

 

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Transportation Nation

NTSB Calls for National Ban On Cell Phones While Driving

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

(photo by mscholar14 via flickr)

Federal investigators today called for a nationwide ban on using cell phones while driving.

"More than 3,000 people lost their lives last year in distraction-related accidents," said National Transportation Safety Board chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. "It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving."

The Board is normally charged with investigating accidents, not setting policy.

The board's recommendation came on the heels of an investigation into a multi-car pileup that happened in Missouri last August, when a pickup truck ran into the back of a truck-tractor that had slowed due to an active construction zone. The pickup truck, in turn, was struck from behind by a school bus. That school bus was then hit by a second school bus that had been following. Two people died and 38 others were injured.

According to the NTSB's press release, the investigation revealed that the pickup driver sent and received 11 text messages in the 11 minutes preceding the accident. The last text was received moments before the pickup struck the truck-tractor.

Department of Transportation Ray LaHood has made distracted driving one of his key issues. When he unveiled crash statistics for 2010 earlier this month, he announced a new category: the "distraction-affected crash” measure, which collects data about the role distracted driving plays in accidents. He wrote in a blog post that "data confirms that driver distraction continues to be a significant safety problem. For example... more than three-quarters of the drivers told us they answer calls on all, some, or most trips when they're behind the wheel."

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WQXR Blog

Symphony Goers, Start Your Smart Phones

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Cincinnati Symphony has established a section of its concert hall where audience members can bring out their iPhones, Androids and tablets and Tweet along with the music.

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Schoolbook

Cellphones: Why Not Use Them to Teach?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Two advocates for bringing the latest digital devices into the classroom say educators who are taking simple steps and putting the proper building blocks in place are experiencing great success in encouraging students to use their mobile devices as powerful learning tools.

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The Takeaway

Mobile Phones Lead Innovation in Developing World

Monday, October 31, 2011

As part of The Takeaway's innovation discussion the program looks at how new cell phone technology is having some big implications for the developing world. It’s a powerful tool because of its prevalence — cell phone use in the developing world has surged in recent years, meaning it could be the gateway to solving long standing challenges. Dr. Ashifi Gogo is CEO of Sproxil, a multi-national company that uses cell phones to help consumers spot counterfeit drugs in the developing world. Ramesh Raskar is an associate professor at MIT Media Lab.

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WNYC News

Cell Phone Ban Is a Tale of Two City Schools

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The city started aggressively enforcing a cellphone ban five years ago in schools. But students at most schools know they can get away with carrying their phones while students at schools with metal detectors pay a price for following the rules, by using trucks and bodegas to stash their phones for a dollar a day. WNYC's Beth Fertig brings us an update on the phone ban in New York City public schools.

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Schoolbook

Cellphone Ban Is a Tale of Two City Schools

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Five years ago, the city started aggressively enforcing its 1998 ban on electronics to keep cellphones out of schools, except for students with medical conditions. Yet today, students at most schools know they can get away with carrying their phones unless they flaunt them. It is the students at schools with metal detectors who pay a price for following the rules, by using trucks and bodegas to stash their phones for a dollar a day.

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WNYC News

Subway Platform Cell Phone Service Debuts Next Week

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Waiting for a train, might involve a lot more talking — at least in certain places. As part of a pilot program, straphangers will finally get cellphone service at some subway platforms.

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The Takeaway

Justice Department Sues to Halt AT&T Merger With T-Mobile

Thursday, September 01, 2011

AT&T, the one-time sole carrier of Apple’s iPhone, has had its fare share of problems: dropped calls, consumer discontent, and a shoddy network across the northeast coast made the company a "second tier" cellular carrier as far as its hard core data plan users were concerned. Until yesterday, the company had plans to fix that. AT&T was working on a $39 billion dollar merger deal with Deutsche Telekom to acquire T-Mobile USA, and expand its data and voice service across the country. But the U.S. Department of Justice may be stopping that plan dead in its tracks.

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The Takeaway

Bay Area Rapid Transit Vs. Protesters, Round 2

Monday, August 15, 2011

After a homeless man was shot dead by Bay Area Rapid Transit system police last month, outraged citizens planned protests for last Thursday at a BART station, planning to organize via their mobile devices. To prevent the demonstrations, BART cut off cell phone service to its passengers. Many called this action censorship, and retaliated. The hacker group Anonymous broke into the BART website, defaced it and released user information to the public. Another protest is set to take place at a BART station today. How will BART handle it this time?

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Transportation Nation

WiFi And Dial-tones Coming to NYC Subway Platforms...S l o w l y

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

(Photo by AZY_NYC / Flickr)

(New York, NY - WNYC) WiFi is coming to NYC subway platforms, but not for another four years -- and there will be no connectivity in tunnels.

The subway station project was delayed for nearly three years while Transit Wireless, the company chosen to set up the system at no cost to the NY MTA, got its financing in order. The authority's board selected the company in 2007 but didn't give it a "notice to proceed" until Broadcast Australia decided to back the company in July 2010.

New York City straphangers are of two minds about the lack of WiFi and cell phone service in the subway. They see it as either a galling void or a sanctuary from modern life's near-constant connectivity.

There's something for both sides in the NY Metropolitan Transportation Authority's current project to bring the internet and phone use underground.  For those who want the service because it'll help emergency responders communicate and help riders use transit apps on their mobile devices--or because they absolutely MUST check their emails or headlines--they'll have it at three stations by the end of the year.

For those who don't want to hear a stranger discuss his grocery list at high volume, it'll be a full four years before the system's remaining 271 platforms are wirelessly enabled.

First to see the service will be the platforms, stairs and mezzanines of the 14th Street stations at 8th and 6th Avenues and the 23rd Street C / E station in Manhattan.

Transit Wireless will charge telecom companies for use of the wireless signal and then split the profits with the MTA. The authority says it expects to earn at least $30 million dollars over ten years from the deal.

The NY MTA also says there will be WiFi and cell phone service in a non-subway tunnel -- on its Metro-North commuter line between 97th Street and Grand Central Terminal, and in the terminal itself. The authority wouldn't give a completion date for that project.

NY MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said the main benefit would be improved safety on platforms. “We send out real-time email, text message and Twitter alerts to our customers in the event of an emergency or other service disruption,” he said. “Having cell service in our underground platforms expands the reach and usefulness of those alerts.”

 

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The Takeaway

Outrage Grows Over Murdoch Tabloid Hacking Scandal

Thursday, July 07, 2011

British Prime Minister David Cameron says there needs to be a public inquiry into allegations that the NewsCorp.-owned newspaper News of the World hacked mobile phones to listen to voicemails of murder and terrorism victims. The latest allegation against the Murdoch tabloid is that a private investigator employed by the paper hacked into the personal accounts of family members of soldiers killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

New Cell Phone Danger Rating Explained

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Washington Post reporter Rob Stein, explains the new classification for cell phones by the World Health Organization, which placed the devices in the "possibly carcinogenic to humans" category

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The Brian Lehrer Show

New Emergency PLAN

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Julius Genachowski, Federal Communications Commission chairman, explains the new PLAN -- the Personal Localized Alerting Network for mobile phones -- that will be rolled out first in New York City. 

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