7061 East Pleasant Valley Road, Independence, Ohio 44131 • (216) 241-2630 / Fax: (216) 241-6516

Membership
Benefits
News and Issues
Departments
Information
Secretary-Treasurer
Merchandise
Communications
FELA
Events
Links
User Info

Cellphones chime again in tunnels under Hudson

(The following article by Patrick McGeehan was posted on the New York Times website on July 20.)

NEW YORK -- After almost two weeks of enforced silence, commuters can chatter away on their cellphones again as they pass through tunnels under the Hudson River.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey cut off all cellphone service in the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels as a safety precaution immediately after the subway bombings in London on July 7. The Department of Homeland Security raised the threat level for transit systems to high, and Port Authority police officers feared that terrorists might try to use cellphones to detonate bombs in the tunnels.

Richard J. Codey, the acting governor of New Jersey, shared those concerns. But his spokeswoman, Kelley Heck, said yesterday that Mr. Codey approved restoration of the service yesterday after security advisers persuaded him "that the phones could be turned back on and residents would be safe."

Only one other transit agency in the country, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, banned the use of cellphones in tunnels after the London bombings. The authority briefly silenced them in two automobile tunnels under the East River, the Brooklyn-Battery and Queens-Midtown Tunnels.

But after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg publicly questioned the wisdom of leaving drivers and their passengers unable to call for help or report suspicious behavior, the authority restored the service a week ago. Security consultants and cell-phone industry officials also questioned the move, pointing out that the bombs that exploded on a commuter train in Madrid last year were detonated by the alarm clock functions on cellphones, not by placing calls to them. Those alarm clocks would continue to work in a tunnel where there is no phone reception, they said.

Transit officials at first said the New York Police Department had ordered the shutdown, but the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, disputed that account and endorsed the benefits of cellphones in emergencies. Calling the matter a misunderstanding, the transportation authority promptly instructed cell-phone service providers to turn their antennas in the tunnels back on.

But the Port Authority held its ground, suggesting that it would keep the system in the Hudson River tunnels off until the heightened alert for transit systems was called off. The shutdown was easier for the Port Authority to carry out because it controls the switch on antennas it installed in the tunnels for all cellphone users.

Representatives of two cellphone-service providers, Cingular Wireless and Verizon Wireless, said that the Port Authority notified them yesterday afternoon that the service would be restored soon. They declined to say if the Port Authority explained the change.

"We're delighted to be able to serve our customers in these locations again," said Mark Siegel, a spokesman for Cingular.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Like us on Facebook at
Facebook.com/BLETNational

Sign up for BLET News Flash Alerts

© 1997-2020 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen

 


Decertification Helpline
(216) 694-0240

National Negotiations

Sign up for BLET
News Flash Alerts

DAILY HEADLINES

Pan Am Railways goes up for sale
An observer’s view of the Pan Am Railways sale
NJ Transit claims “major milestone” in PTC progress
Amtrak to reduce New York-Florida trains starting July 6, with more cuts coming October 1
SEPTA Regional Rail is coming back, but many of its suburban riders are still working from home
Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles set records for container movement
Nebraska Commission files complaint against railroads for blocked crossings
CN plans nearly C$1 billion in capital projects
Norfolk Southern sold its Roanoke headquarters building for $30 million, less than assessed value
Passenger rail between Duluth, Twin Cities hurt by lack of state backing
Port of Savannah calls 10% container volume drop “better than expected”
RRB begins paying CARES Act recovery payments for unemployed rail workers
Q&A: RRB reports performance under customer service plan
Get the latest labor news from the Teamsters

More Headlines