The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Tuesday tested cell phone and data service at certain subway stations in Manhattan, giving a few lucky riders the ability to talk on the phone, send texts and access the Web while underground.
The first phase of the roll out – which is 10 months ahead of schedule – gives AT&T and T-Mobile customers access to their cell phones at certain subway lines at all five 14 Street subway stations and one station on West 23rd Street.
Although some said the addition of the service in the subways will cause "a lot of annoyance" and "more distraction," others saw the service as a benefit to riders.
"If we have an emergency, we can use our cell phones," said one subway traveler. "I'm glad that they are doing it."
Another subway passenger at the 14th Street station at 8th Avenue said they didn't think people will abuse the service.
"People are going to talk anyway," a subway rider told TechNewsDaily. "No one is entitled to quiet on the subway. It's not a library and it's not time for a nap. People are allowed to do what they want to do, and I trust they will be courteous to others."
MTA said it expects to provide service to the remaining 271 underground stations within four years and has already begun design work on the next 30 stations on the west side of Manhattan, including Times Square, Herald Square and Columbus Circle. Those 30 stations are expected to be wired for phone and data service in the next 12 months.
As part of the service, uninterrupted access to 911 will be available at connected subway stations. In addition, 911 dispatchers will know when a call is being placed at street level or underground in the subway.