Busy tones: Map reminds us that payphones still exist, make money

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Yep, still here. via Flickr user Jens Schott Knudsen

You kids fresh out of college might not remember, but there was once an age of having to walk around with your pockets stuffed full of quarters in case you needed to make a phone call. Those of us old enough to have fond memories of Rage Against the Machine remember having to use payphones, so imagine our delight when the Independent Budget Office came out with this handy map showing where all the payphones in the city remain, along with a study that proves they’re still worth something.

Each of those red dots represents a payphone, so as you can see, we still have quite a few of them out there in the world, being used in drug deals and collect calls, or whatever people use them for now. It might seem like there are a lot, but the report notes that even with 2,114 in Brooklyn and 5,509 in Manhattan, that’s 60 and 33 percent less in each respective borough than there were in just 2008.

Oddly, while people leaving payphones in the dust has meant the city is seeing less money from their 10 percent cut in revenue from the calls themselves, the money the city is making from advertising on payphones (of which they get a 36 percent cut) has gone up from under $15 million to over that, and is still climbing. The lesson to take from this is that no matter how obsolete you feel, you can always just slap on ad on yourself to suddenly be useful again.

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