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More Tapping Than Talking as Cell Phone Service Hits Subway Stations

By Mathew Katz | September 27, 2011 1:42pm
A woman listens to her voicemail on an uptown E train at 14th Street station.
A woman listens to her voicemail on an uptown E train at 14th Street station.
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

CHELSEA — The MTA switched on cell phone service at six Manhattan subway stations on Tuesday, but commuters were slow to embrace the concept of chatting on the train while it is at the station.

"I prefer to spend as little time as possible on my cell phone," said Aislinn Ryan, who was waiting for a downtown train at the 23rd Street C Station. "And it costs quite a lot of money."

Still, she had expected only to draft a text message to a friend while underground, and was surprised when she was able to send it.

Many on the platforms and in the trains were surprised to have their cell phones buzz and beep as they pulled into 14th Street and 23rd Street stations.

"I knew it was starting at [stations], but I did not know this was one of them," said Jose Moore, who was waiting for an uptown A train at 14th Street Station. "I'm happy to have it. It's pretty convenient."

Commuters with AT&T and T-Mobile cell phones will be able to get reception at stations along 14th Street, along with the 23rd Street station on the C line.

"I think it's truly a statement about how New York feels about its subway service," said William Bayne Jr., CEO of Transit Wireless, the company providing the city's stations with cell phone access.

Transit Wireless expects to get the same cell phone service into every other station in the city within four years, and to have wireless access up and running at 30 stations on the west side of Manhattan over the next 12 months.

A handful of people did use their newfound ability to call friends while waiting for the train. Franklyn Greenaway, a rapper from the Bronx also known as Funny Rapper Guy, made a call while waiting for an uptown C train, and then immediately started browsing the web on his Blackberry.

"Shout-out to whoever put this joint in the train station. We needed this." he said.

"I'm gonna be on Facebook all day now."