Just as we were wrapping our heads around losing the V and W trains and the Crown Vics, the Bloomberg administration is renewing efforts to get rid of another city classic: streetside emergency-help boxes. They've asked a federal court to lift an injunction that would let them remove 15,000 of the boxes from the streets, claiming that they're obsolete in an age of cell phones. But advocates say that removing the boxes could discriminate against the city's deaf residents.

The boxes cost about $9 million a year to maintain, and the city says that about 9 out of 10 of the calls are false alarms. They also claim that the city's deaf residents can use payphones and a special tapping code to tell 911 whether they want to report a police or fire emergency. But lawyer Robert B. Stulberg says pay phones are so scarce that it would be ridiculous to rely on them in the case of an emergency. He told the Times, "Requiring the deaf and hearing-impaired to tap on public pay phones to summon fire or police services would be wholly ineffective, discriminatory, and irresponsible." A law professor added, "In an emergency, are people going to have both the time and the presence of mind to be able to able to think about a tapping system?"

In order to get rid of the boxes, the City Council would have to repeal a law stating that there must be one box every four blocks. Bloomberg has asked the Federal District Court in Manhattan to lift an injunction granted in 1996 which blocked a similar plan put into play by Giuliani. So, has anyone ever had to use one of these for an actual emergency, or are you one of the 9 out of 10 that just wants to prank the system?