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Nearly a third of subway station pay telephones are out of order in a situation that has worsened in the past year, a transit advocacy agency has found. The citys more severe decline in phones was at the 74th St./ Roosevelt Avenue station in Queens.
The deterioration in subway telephones came despite the Metropolitan Transportation Authoritys contract requiring the telephone company Verizon to maintain at least 95 percent of telephones operating at all times.
The Straphangers Campaign said one survey of 789 telephones at 100 randomly selected subway stations found 31 percent were not working as result of problems ranging from no dial tone to coin slots that were blocked.
Things had declined from the summer of 2001, when a survey by Straphangers found one in five such phones non-working.
In a second survey, the Straphangers tested phones at the 25 most-used subway stations and found 29 percent of phones non-functioning, compared with one in five phones out of order a year earlier.
Were very disappointed that Verizon is falling even shorter of its pledge to have 95 percent of phones working, said Neysa Pranger, coordinator for the Straphangers Campaign. We know Verizon has faced major challenges post 9/11, but the riding public desire for ways to stay in communication has also been heightened.
Verizon said the number of their workers who maintain MTA pay phones had dropped from 170 to 136 in the past year.
Verizons contract with the MTA requires the utility company to keep at least 95 percent of subway station telephones fully operative and in services at all times.
Other findings in survey of the 25 most-used stations:
The best of the most-used stations with 100 percent of phones working was 34th Street/8th Avenue Penn Station (A, C, E trains).
The worst, with 36 percent of phones working was 23rd Street/Lexington Avenue (No. 6 trains)
The most improved station was 68th Street/Lexington Avenue (No. 6 trains) which went from 57 percent of working phones last year to 75 percent in 2002.
The most deteriorated station was 74th Street/Roosevelt Ave. (No. 7, E, F, G, R, and V trains) which went from 79 percent of phones working last year to 51 percent in 2002.
Main Street/Flushing (No. 7 trains) improved from 72 percent of phones working in 2001 to 86 percent now. But Jamaica Center/Parsons-Archer was down from 94 percent in 2001 to 65 percent in 2002.
In the surveys, telephones were considered non-functioning if the handset was missing or unusable, there was no dial tone, those conducting the survey were unable to connect to 411, 555-1212 or 0, the coin slot was blocked or a coin was not returned if no call was put through.
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.
©2002 Community Newspaper Group
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