A Third Of NYC Pay Phones Are Broken

August 25, 2014 | Sophie Weiner

According to city records, 35% of New York’s 8,894 public phones are broken. The Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications has stated that Verizon may be in part at fault for the mass failure, as the company is largely responsible for repair of public phones and hasn’t stepped up to fix them in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Despite their state of disrepair, the city still made $16.4 million off pay phones in the last year. A good portion of this revenue comes from ads on the sides of booths, which means the derelict third of NYC pay phones are basically just functionless things to put ads on sometimes.

These ad contracts conclude in October, but by the end of the year the city hopes to finalize a deal to transform phone booths into wifi hotspots. This could particularly help disadvantaged areas where free internet access is rare. Phone calls will still be possible from the booths.

“While pay phones don’t see as much use as in their heyday, we envision them as adaptable into part of a more connected New York City,” city spokesman Nicholas Sbordone told the Daily News. “Areas of the five boroughs without much free public WiFi today may really benefit from this initiative.” The city plans to have the wifi hotspots up and running by next summer. (Photo: @philakilla)