Wednesday, August 15, 2007

NYC MTA - the lounge act's last hope?

The subway floods last week gave rise to an article in AM New York that I've been waiting for since I got back to NY - that mobile service in the NYC subways might become a reality soon. I've not heard anyone say that they want cellular service down there, and I'll bet sexual chocolate to my right who was playing to welcome hamptons goers back to Penn Station last weekend doesn't want it either.

However, New Yorkers seem to think personal safety ranks as a more important aspect of the social contract than annoying your neighbors, and having a working phone on you does make you feel safer. Seth Godin mentioned that it wasn't the inconvenience of train service outages, but poor communication that pissed people off the most. People were in the dark and were not able to choose transportation alternatives because they didn't get MTA advisories.

Maybe the NYC MTA could take a lesson from the Hampton Jitney (not instruct people to take buses) and set up WiFi. Hampton Jitney enabled WiFi because they needed a way to verify bum credit cards, and once they solved their on the spot payment processing problem they started selling WiFi service to passengers as an ancillary service, thus making them look cool when really all they were trying to do was bust you for using the Underhill's credit card. So if the MTA skipped cellular service and went straight to blanketed WiFi - that would be fine with me, because I'm buying a WiFi phone soon, but it's less ecumenical than Festivus and will be so until everyone has a wifi enabled device on their person.

Personally, I miss having cell service in the subway, I had it in aught 2 ('02) back in Shanghai, before carriers like Sprint even allowed text messages in the US. Maybe City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) has been to Shanghai and that is why he thinks the MTA can and should upgrade its IT systems. I say if Washington D.C. has it we should have it in NYC. I would be able to read AM NY on my phone, but I would still listen to sexual chocolate - they play so fine don't you agree?

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