Frequently Asked Questions: Public Pay Telephones

What does DoITT have to do with public pay telephones?

How many public pay telephones are there on City sidewalks?

Are all of these public pay telephones owned by Verizon?

Does anyone still use public pay telephones to make phone calls?

Do property owners have any say regarding public pay telephones installed adjacent to their properties?

Are advertising panels allowed to be displayed on public pay telephones at all locations?

Are there restrictions on the kinds of ads allowed on public pay telephone kiosks?

Does the City benefit from the display of advertising?

Who is responsible for enforcing rules regarding public pay telephones?

What is included in a public pay telephone inspection?

Who do I call if I lose money in a public pay telephone?

What should I do if I have a specific complaint about a public pay telephone or a public pay telephone company?

How can I purchase advertising space on public pay telephones (PPTs) in New York City?

What are the guidelines concerning accessibility for public pay telephones?

What does DoITT have to do with public pay telephones?
DoITT regulates public pay telephones installed on and over the City's sidewalks except for phones that are attached to subway stations (which are handled by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority). Payphones installed on private property are not regulated by DoITT.

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How many public pay telephones are there on City sidewalks?
As of June 10, 2014 there are 8,931 active public pay telephones on or over the City's sidewalks, regulated by DoITT. Of that number, 5,205 are in Manhattan, 1,382 in Queens, 1,495 in Brooklyn, 786 in the Bronx and 63 in Staten Island.

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Are all of these public pay telephones owned by Verizon?
Verizon no longer owns or operates public pay telephones on the streets of New York City. The remaining Public Pay Telephones are owned and operated by 10 other franchisees.

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Does anyone still use public pay telephones to make phone calls?
Yes. Even though the usage has gone way down, the public pay telephones are still used for regular calls and long distance calls. Public pay telephones also provide free access to 911 and 311.

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Do property owners have any say regarding public pay telephones installed adjacent to their properties?
Yes, but it depends on the date the public pay telephone was installed and how close it is to the property. If a public pay telephone is to be located at the building line (within 6 feet of the building) the property owner must give consent before it can be installed. However, if the public pay telephone existed at that location prior to August 1, 1994, the public pay telephone franchisee does not need to obtain the property owner's consent to maintain the public pay telephone at that location, pursuant to the City's Administrative Code. Public pay telephones installed at the curb do not require consent of the adjacent property owner.

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Are advertising panels allowed to be displayed on public pay telephones at all locations?
No. Advertising is allowed only on public pay telephones that are installed at curbside within zoning districts that allow commercial or industrial uses as of right.

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Are there restrictions on the kinds of ads allowed on public pay telephone kiosks?
Yes. Unlawful or obscene advertising as designated in Penal Law 245.11 (Public Display of Offensive Sexual Material) and tobacco product advertising are banned, as well as advertising that is false or misleading.

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Does the City benefit from the display of advertising?
Yes. The City receives 36% of the net revenue from advertising on public pay telephones. The City is also provided with 2% of the total number of advertising panels for public service advertisements which promote the programs of various City agencies.

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Who is responsible for enforcing rules regarding public pay telephones?
DoITT has an enforcement unit with public pay telephone inspectors. Inspections are conducted before a new public pay telephone is installed to ensure that the site complies with DoITT's rules regarding placement and after installation to verify proper installation.

Inspections are also conducted during the life of the public pay telephone to determine if it is being properly maintained. DoITT's rules regarding public pay telephones are set forth in Chapter 6 of the Rules of the City of New York.

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What is included in a public pay telephone inspection?
Public pay telephone inspectors check many items including:

  • Phone cleanliness
  • Phone operability
  • Compliance with signage requirements
  • Installation and siting compliance

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Who do I call if I lose money in a public pay telephone?
First, you should contact the public pay telephone company to request a refund. You will need to provide the company with the location of the particular phone, the time and date of the loss and the amount of the loss. If you cannot resolve your issue with the company you may contact DoITT via 311 or 311 online or via our online complaint form:

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What should I do if I have a specific complaint about a public pay telephone or a public pay telephone company?
For many complaints you may wish to contact the public pay telephone company directly. The company's name and phone number should be displayed on the placard located near the handset of the telephone unit. You may also contact DoITT for assistance via 311 or 311 online or via our online complaint form.

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How can I purchase advertising space on public pay telephones (PPTs) in New York City?
Contact one of our approved media representative companies listed below to place any advertisements on a Public Pay Telephone (PPT) location.

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What are the guidelines concerning accessibility for public pay telephones?
All relevant laws related to ensuring that the kiosks are fully accessible to people with disabilities should be fallowed. Public pay telephone kiosks should ensure that people in wheelchairs, and the hearing and sight impaired, will be able to utilize the telecommunications amenities. See Section 7 of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities Inclusive Design Guidelines on creating public environments that are usable by everyone. 

 

Approved Media Representatives:

Van Wagner Communications, LLC (212) 699-8400
Vector Media, LLC Street Furniture (212) 557-9405
Prime Point Media (678) 966-0100
Titan Outdoor, LLC (212) 644-6200

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