Friday, 10 Apr 2020

NYC will remove remaining payphones — replacing some with LinkNYC kiosks, report says

New York’s finally hanging up on payphones.

Most of the last open-air payphones in the Big Apple will soon be a thing of the past — with some to be swapped for LinkNYC kiosks, Gothamist reported Friday.

City workers are moving ahead next month with the removal of 30 coin-operated relics in Hell’s Kitchen, before ripping out nearly all of the city’s remaining payphones after that.

Residents in the Manhattan neighborhood had long complained about the absurdly high number of phones in the area, prompting City Council Speaker Corey Johnson to help push the process forward.

“[These phones] present public safety and quality of life issues,” Johnson said in a statement to Gothamist. “They take up sorely needed sidewalk space that could better serve people with disabilities, families with strollers and ease sidewalk congestion.”

Not only are the phones blocking sidewalks, but Hell’s Kitchen residents said they’ve also been poorly maintained by CityBridge, a consortium that installs and operates them.

Johnson contacted the city’s Department of Information, Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) — the city agency tasked with removing the phones, to get the ball rolling.

Several of the Hell’s Kitchen payphones will be replaced with the LinkNYC internet kiosks, which CityBridge also operates, though an exact number is not immediately clear. And not all payphones are controlled by CityBridge — so some may remain, Gothamist reported.

The LinkNYC partnership has already replaced at least 7,500 of the city’s payphones.

The city plans to install up to 10,000 of the kiosks across all five boroughs — which was expected to generate more than $500 million in revenue for the City over the initiative’s first 12 years of their operation, according to the DoITT website. But revenue figures have so far been underwhelming since launching in 2014.

New York will always have four remaining enclosed phone booths on the Upper West Side, which are being preserved as an homage to New York City’s cellphoneless past, NY1 reported.

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