Management & Operations

Transit agencies get an earful about cell phone use

Posted on June 1, 2001

Addressing the growing concern of cell phone use on public transportation vehicles, many transit agencies are reevaluating their policies. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) board of directors delayed for one month voting on the provision of phone service in the subway after a transit rider voiced his opposition to cell phone use in all subway cars. "A gentlemen spoke at the last board meeting and raised some concerns about cell phone use on the subway," said MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo, "so the board tabled the matter until the next meeting." The MBTA intends to have a neutral wireless carrier, Andrew Corp. of Addison, Ill., successfully bid on the project, install wire throughout the tunnels and the station and in turn lease space to cell phone providers. "We are working with Andrew Corp. right now to put together a proposal to present to the board of directors," said Pesaturo. He explained that the proposal would involve addressing some of the concerns that have been raised. "We want to satisfy everyone, but we are by no stretch of the imagination abandoning this." The MBTA is not the only transit agency to get an earful about cell phone use. Just last fall Amtrak officially designated "quiet cars" for business travelers who want to escape the sounds of technology like cell phones and laptops. Although there is opposition, there is still a demand for cell phone use. "We've heard from a lot of customers who've expressed an interest in using cell phones on the subway," said Pesaturo. "We think it would be a great convenience for our customers," said Mike Healy, public affairs director at Bay Area Rapid Transit. The Washington (D.C.) Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is already wired for phone service and has received positive responses, said WMATA spokesman Steven Taubenkibel. "People like to have the ability to call their loved ones to let them know when they are coming home."

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