The day has finally arrived for selected cell phone service on certain Manhattan subway platforms, but not on trains, and not for every cell phone carrier. Props to AT&T and T-Mobile. To see how New Yorkers are reacting to this new development, I took to the streets, er, the subway platform to get the scoop.
The 14th street L platform seemed like a good place to get people’s reactions to the new service bustling with Brooklyn-goers. Upon entering the waiting area, some phones rang while others received text messages. Most people were wearing headphones, blocking out the noise of vents and screeching tracks, and it did not appear that they were speaking into them. Plenty of other travelers’ thumbs were going to work on their touch screens and keypads, but whether they were sending texts, BBMs, pix messages, or playing Angry Birds shall forever remain a mystery. One guy appeared to be searching for reception beneath the busy New York streets while other fast-walking train riders didn’t seem interested in their cell phones at all.
A girl on her cell phone waiting for the Brooklyn-bound L train told me the service should have started way earlier. “It’s important enough,” she stressed. Although she didn’t know when exactly she, as an AT&T user, would have cell reception in the underground tunnels. “So many other countries have it already. Why did it take us so long?” Amen, sister.
Another kid on his way downtown took a few minutes to chat with me about the new technological advancement. He had no idea about the development. Maybe because he has Sprint, which is not part of the master plan. He felt “mad and frustrated," he said, that he doesn’t have cell service while other people do.
A really ticked off guy with Metro PCS cell phone service shared his feelings, too. “Oh man, I get enough people yak, yak, yakking outside. I don’t need it on the subway too," he said.
Although she couldn’t take too much time to stop and talk, a busy woman beamed that she felt “very positive" about the news. “This is a terrific thing," she said. "I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a long commute wishing I could tell people I’m running late.” Very respectful. Now if only the service applied to inside trains and not just on platforms.
Two out-of-towners didn’t know a thing about the new cell phone service. However, one lady was kind enough to show me her phone with full reception with the name “T-Mobile” next to the little bars. Thanks. You are useless, Verizon. Useless.
Walking up and down the L train platform, I noticed the immense amount of people on their cell phones, but since so many phones are used for more than just making calls or sending texts, nothing seemed to be too out of the ordinary. Out of all of the people I saw there, I only noticed one person entertaining himself in a way that didn’t involve his cell phone: he was reading the newspaper. I bet he had a blue tooth in on the other side of his head.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story contained references to the cost of the program to the MTA. In fact, a private company will pay $46.8 million to New York City Transit over 10 years to develop, control and maintain service.