NEW YORK - Public payphones were once a fixture of New York City’s streets, but they could soon become an urban relic.
City officials say they plan to remove 30 open-air payphones in Hell’s Kitchen by the end of March, and the remaining ones shortly thereafter.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson says that his office received multiple complaints about the “antiquated and outdated” payphone booths.
Traditional walk-in phone booths can actually still be found along West End Avenue at the corners of 66th, 90th, 100th, and 101st streets, on the Upper West Side. The rest are on their way out, to be replaced by new LinkNYC Wi-Fi kiosks.
City Bridge, the company behind LinkNYC, plans to install up to 10,000 kiosks across all five boroughs. Those kiosks allow users to make free phone calls to anywhere in the U.S.
The LinkNYC program is expected to rake in $500M in revenue to the city at no cost to taxpayers. The kiosks make money through paid advertisements.
But privacy concerns have been raised about the kiosks, which contain cameras, sensors, and may be able to track people and gather sensitive data on unsuspecting citizens.