Cell Phones and Subways: Students React to the New Commuter Privilege


Published: October 11, 2007

“Can you hear me now?” This question posed by Verizon Wireless commercials will no longer ring true for Fordham subway riders. The MTA recently announced a deal that will allow cell phone use in subway stations throughout the city.

This September, the MTA agreed to work with Transit Wireless to have 277 subway stations wired for cell phone use, according to the announcement. Subway riders will be able to use their cell phones in all areas of the subway station, including mezzanines and entryways. In the next two years of a six-year plan, six stations will be wired and tested. In the following four years, Transit Wireless will wire the remaining stations.

Fordham students reacted with mixed feelings about having the ability to text, e-mail and access the Internet during their commute.

“I’m loving it,” Mark Parker said, FCLC ’09. “It’s hard being down in the subways trying to contact people you’re meeting and having no signal.”

“For emergency purposes, this will make it very convenient for passengers,” Simone Smith, FCLS ’08, said.

In fact, much of the demand for the wiring was in response to an August storm that overflooded stations and left many frustrated commuters without access to information or signals to contact employers, families and friends.

Yet some students feel there are other issues of more importance than wireless connections and  cell phone usage.

“Cell phone use in the subway system is the least of our concerns,” Angela Venuti, FCLC ’08, said. “Security is a bigger issue when kids are fighting almost every day and my cousin gets assaulted by an insane homeless lady.” Venuti believes that an already annoying commute will only be made worse with people chatting in stations.

According to the announcement, subway cars and tunnels will not be wired, keeping cell phone conversations and those ‘Chatty Kathys’ limited to the subway stations.

Jessica Kosiorek, FCRH ’09, who commutes to Lincoln Center for three classes from Brooklyn and is a frequent rider of the Ram Van, is ambivalent about the announcement. “I would probably use it to only text, but not for phone calls, because people may be listening to your conversation.”

Despite the mixed feelings about the announcement, the main concern among Fordham students was the quality of the ride and the dependability of the subway system.

“Now, if only they would make the trains run more smoothly on weekends,” Parker said.