2006_05_payphonesub.jpgRing, ring - the Straphangers have released their latest survey of subway payphone usability, finding that more 29% of subway phones (808 telephones were surveyed in 100 randomly selected stations) were non-functioning, with 28% non-working in the 15 most used subway stations. Those aren't great odds. But the most interesting thing that the Straphangers study reveals is that Verizon is no longer required to "keep any minimum number of payphones in working order," which means payphones will probably go downhill as the MTA thinks about cell service in subway stations. The NY Times asked Verizon about this, and a spokesperson said they try to address problems but, "people act out their frustrations on our phones." Yeah, maybe because they don't work!

Here are the Straphangers' other key findings:

- The best of the most-used stations — with 92% of payphones functioning — is 34th Street- Penn Station (A, C, E)
- The worst of the most-used stations — with only 38% working phones — is Chambers St-WTC (ACE)/Park Pl (2, 3)
- The most improved large station is 14 St-Union Square (4, 5, 6, L, N, Q, R and W), which improved from 40% working payphones in 2005 to 73% this year
- The most deteriorated large station is Canal St (6, J, M, N, Q, R, W, Z) which fell from 95% functioning payphones to 59% in this survey
- Among the 13 largest subway stations common to last year’s survey and this one, we found that payphone functioning rates improved in six and grew worse in seven

Expect the Chambers Street and Park Place station to improve for next year - Union Square was the worst last year! Gothamist on last year's survey, which showed 27% of tested payphones were nonworking.

Photograph from Vidiot on Flickr, and we like this photo from majorkimba on Flickr that shows a sculpture that spoofs the subway payphone