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NYC Gets Subway Cellphone Service; Why Are We Still Behind Boston?

Submitted by on October 2, 2011 – 2:14 pm2 Comments

Rejoice! New York City residents now have even fewer moments of the day when they have to be apart from their cellular reception!

The city unveiled cellphone service in six stations in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. For now, service will only be available on the platforms (not actually while riding the subway), and only for AT&T and T-Mobile subscribers.

(Wait, shouldn’t T-Mobile focus on getting reception above ground first?)

The network is being built by private investors, and the cash-strapped MTA will see a cut of the revenue eventually. Even the Straphanger’s Campaign, an advocacy organization for subway riders that is rarely happy with the transit agency, seems pleased this time according to ABC News.

This is a great development, but it also served as an unfortunate reminder of how the New York transit system in some ways lags behind cities like San Francisco and even… Boston. In both cities, cellphone service has been available at major stations for years now. Boston also offers wi-fi on its extensive commuter rail system, which Bostonians no doubt use to follow live updates of all the Red Sox’s postseason play. (Oh wait…)

While I’m glad to see increased amenities coming to New York, I worry that underground cellphone service could eliminate one of my favorite daily commuting moments: watching the panicked frenzy of phone activity as the Q train briefly comes above ground and crosses the Manhattan Bridge. While my fellow travelers make hurried calls and frantically check emails, I listen to the ruckus and enjoy the view of the downtown skyline. Because its all about the little things in life.

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