Cell Phone Service Now Available At Handful Of Underground Subway Stations; 30 More To Be Added


mta-subwayCellphone service became available in a handful of underground subway stations Tuesday morning – and 30 more stops will be wired within the next year.

Riders with T-Mobile or AT&T cell accounts can chat, text or email from six stations in the Chelsea area, including at 14th St./Eighth Ave., where A,C,E trains stop.

The other stations that are now cell-phone happylands are:

* The L station at Eighth Avenue and W. 14th Street;
* The C,E station at Eighth Avenue and W. 23rd Street;
* The 1,2,3 station at Seventh Avenue and W. 14th Street;
* The F,M station at Sixth Avenue and W. 14th Street;
* The L station at Sixth Avenue and W. 14th Street.

Straphangers with other carriers are out of luck – for now. But the MTA is involved in ongoing negotiations aimed at bringing other major carries on board, officials said.

“It’s pretty cool, pretty awesome,” Bernie Delberice, 22, a college student from Brooklyn, said of the new wireless capability underground. “You can check your email, check your updates. You can be productive while you wait for a train.”

Others were less excited about hearing fellow riders yakking away while on subway platforms.

“It’s one of the last places you can’t use cellphones, and I like that,” said Soule Golden, 28, a costume designer from Long Island. “It’s annoying having to listen to everyone talking on cellphones all the time.”

The next wave of 30 stations that will get service includes three major transit hubs: Times Square, Herald Square and Columbus Circle, authorities said.

Subway tunnels have not been wired, so service will be spotty, if not nonexistent, while trains are in transit.

Transit Wireless, which the MTA hired to build the network for voice and data service, expects to have all 277 underground stations rigged up within four years. Transit Wireless and the carriers are footing the project’s costs, which could be as high as $200 million, officials said.

Once the entire system has cell service, Transit Wireless will begin paying the MTA $3.3 million annually. Payments will continue for 10 years. The contract also has two five-year renewal options.

Carmen Bianco, the MTA’s senior vice president of subways, said wireless service underground brings “a new level of security” to riders who can now call 911 in case of emergency.

Emergency dispatchers will be able to determine whether a 911 call is coming from street level or from inside a station, which could help first responders get on the scene more quickly, officials said.

{NY Daily News/Matzav.com Newscenter}