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One in four subway phones%0Aout of order: Straphangers

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If you are a straphanger underground and in need of a telephone, the end of the No. 7 line is your best bet, but otherwise making a call could be a problem with 25 percent of the phones broken citywide.

The transit activist agency Straphangers campaign reported that all of Flushing Main Street station’s phones work.

The worst place was at Hunter College (68th Street) on Manhattan’s Upper East Side with only half in operating order.

The station at 74th Street/Roosevelt Avenue came in with 70 percent operating.

Flushing Main Street had improved over the 86 percent reported for 2007 and 74th Street/Roosevelt Ave. came up from 68.

“About a quarter ofsubway phones still do not fully work,” said Cate Contino, coordinator for the Straphangers Campaign. “And that’s a problem for many riders.”

The survey found that 921 telephones at 100 randomly selected subway stations were “non-functioning” with problems ranging from no dial tone to the coin slot blocked. The Straphangers tested 638 pay telephones in the 25 busiest New York City Transit subway stations and found 23 percent non-functioning.

Underground stations do not provide for cell phone use and the MTA said in 2007 that as many as half of subway riders do not own cell phones.

The survey was conducted between June 30, 2008 and Sept. 23, 2008. The release of the findings was delayed until state officials resolved the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s financial crisis. In the survey, telephones were designated non-functioning if the handset was missing or unusable or there was no dial tone, if surveyors were unable to connect a call to a 1-800 number, if the coin slot was blocked, if coins deposited did not register or if the telephone would not return a coin.

The Straphangers Campaign said the biggest problem with out-of-orderphones was no dial tone at 24 percent of the sites surveyed. Some 23 percent would not return coins and coins that fell through the machine accounted for 18 percent of the red flags.

Transit officials said Verizon attempts to repair 95 percent of out-of-order subway telephones within 24 hours after the malfunctions are reported.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.

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