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

© 1997-2019 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen

 


Decertification Helpline
(216) 694-0240

Sign up for BLET
News Flash Alerts

DAILY HEADLINES

Kansas City Southern reports Q3 2019 results
AAR: Rail traffic down again for week ending October 12, 2019
U.S. rail volumes still falling
UP sees workforce down by about 4,200 employees this year
Trade war hurts UPís profit; Railroad plans to cut more jobs, reduce spending
UP Q3 coal transportation volumes fall 17% on year
Tentative UAW-GM deal calls for raises, ratification bonus, Lordstown closure, pathway for temps
Amtrakís disappearing dining cars
Illini and Saluki Amtrak routes among worst-performing in U.S., report says
Virginia is planning an east-west passenger rail route connecting Blue Ridge Mountains to the beach
RRB Q&A: Railroad Retirement annuities and pensions from work not covered by Railroad Retirement or Social Security
Get the latest labor news from the Teamsters

More Headlines