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Main St. subway phones worst in city

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Although the Flushing-Main Street station came out near the bottom in the Straphangers Campaign’s check of which subway station telephones work, several other Queens stations fared much better.

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

As for Queens, the station at Flushing-Main Street on the No. 7 line had only 40 percent of its phones working.

Woodhaven Boulevard on the M and R lines had 63 percent working, Jamaica Center-Parsons/Archer had 67 percent working and Kew Gardens-Union Turnpike had 71 percent in working order.

The transit advocacy agency said the best and worst stations were both on the Lexington Avenue No. 6 line, with the 33rd Street station having 100 percent of phones working and the 77th Street station having two-thirds not fully functioning.

The Straphangers survey, conducted a year ago, checked the 40 most-used underground stations. The report said the leading reason for phones being rated as non-functioning was no dial tone (33 percent) followed by failure to connect to a 1-800-test number (21 percent), coins falling through (14 percent), failure to return coins (13 percent), coin slot blocked (11 percent) and bad handset (7 percent).

A total of 740 pay phones were tested and of these the Straphangers surveyors found that 509 — 69 percent — of these were in functioning order.

The Straphangers noted that Verizon’s contract with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority does not require a minimum number of pay phones be kept in working order. Previous contracts called for 95 percent of phones to be “fully operative and in service at all times.” The present contract says Verizon “shall exercise good faith effort to clear 95 percent of all known troubles within 24 hours.”

Cell phones do not work in underground subway stations, although the MTA gave the company Transit Wireless the go-ahead on a project of wiring the subway system for cell phones. New York City Transit said subway users can expect six stations to be wired by the middle of 2012 and all 277 underground stations before the contract ends in 2016.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledgernews@cnglocal.com or phone at 718-260-4536.

Updated 12:01 pm, October 12, 2011
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