On subway platforms across the city, New Yorkers fidget without smartphone service. Even if somebody wanted to use the greasy pay phones provided by the MTA, there’s a good chance that it wouldn’t work.
A quarter of pay phones in New York City subway stations don’t work, according to two surveys released in June by the Straphangers Campaign, a rider advocacy group.
The Campaign checked 921 telephones at 100 randomly chosen subway stations, listening for a dial tone, looking for a usable handle and a clear coin slot and seeing whether or not the slot registered and returned coins. The survey found that 26 percent of payphones did not work completely. Of the phones that didn’t work, the most common problem was no dial tone, accounting for 24 percent of possible malfunctions.
In addition, the campaign surveyed 638 payphones in the 25 stations with the highest traffic and found that 23 percent of phones did not fully work. The worst of the most-used stations was 68th Street-Hunter College, with just 50 percent of the phones working. The Flushing-Main St. station was the most useable, with 100 percent of the phones working.
The L checked on our local York St station, where the phone worked. But riders weren’t keen on using even the grease-free phone.
Anna Katalizkaya, of Manhattan, said that she had never used a subway payphone, but would use one in case of an emergency.
“I’ll save my quarters for the laundry,” she said.