MTA wants phone service on the subway? cell no!


Hang up on this MTA boondoggle right now.

The agency wants to give us cellphone and Wi-Fi service throughout the subway’s 660-plus route miles. Not only on elevated lines and in stations (where spotty service already exists), but in the long, dark tunnels between them.

“People today want to be able to send emails, or texts, or look at their news feed or do whatever through their entire trip,” said Fredericka Cuenca, MTA deputy chief development officer for planning.

Phooey, I say.

Never mind that the MTA would take 10 years — longer than it took to build the new Second Avenue line — to install this supposed technological ­triumph.

Never mind that it’s bananas to let people Google porn sites en route to the office while the system’s real crises — crime and lousy service — await solutions.

Cell use underground would stink even if it could be set up overnight, even if it didn’t cost the MTA a dime (which the agency claims it won’t), and even if the trains ran as smoothly as the Swiss railways. 

Call me nuts — but I’ll take Mexican guitar trios, off-key trumpet players, Jesus preachers and even “I’m sorry to disturb your journey” hustlers over cacophonous, vapid cell-phone jabber.

On the train, I’m spared from hearing about my fellow citizens’ domestic emergencies, dating dilemmas and monkeypox theories.

New Yorkers riding subway with masks after the lockdown, New York City.
Without cell service in the subways, riders aren’t subjected loud phone calls.
Shutterstock / CHOONGKY

“On my way, honey!” “I’m like, ‘Get out of my face!’ ” “My cat threw up on me!”

Can’t such momentous statements wait till the next stop?

I’ve used the subway since the days when cars actually had straps to hang onto. It’s my favorite place to mix and mingle with real New Yorkers in all their funky variety and glory.

The few minutes between stations are precious to those of us who find a grinding, squealing subway car a counterintuitively cozy cocoon of Big Apple life.

Subways can be sexy. See the lovebirds all over each other! And mysterious. Why is that banker-type guy sound asleep at 3 p.m.? Where are young women in gauzy halter tops on their way to at midnight?

But banal cellphone yakking turns the mystique to mush — and passengers into prisoners of yada yada yada.

Ah, you may ask: But what about an emergency? What if, OMG, the train gets stuck between stations?

Well, I’d rather be in a stopped car full of nervous, silent passengers than in one where everybody is saying “Omigod we’re stuck between stations” at the same time.

Let’s keep the trains cellphone-free before there’s no place left to hide from them.


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