Transit Communications Accessibility
This page contains a brief rundown of the communications accessibility of different transit options in the United States.
It is not uncommon for many airports these days to no longer have traditional payphones. Instead, courtesy phones that allow free calls are much more common. However, not all allow long-distance calls, so it's a good idea to have a toll-free service (your own or somebody else's) that you can use.
Below is a chart showing the communications accessibility of airports that we know about. Availability and placement of phones, ability to dial calls directly, and ability to dial long-distance are the factors used when determining accessibility; cost is not a factor, since scores are based on how frictionless it is to make a phone call at a given airport.
This is community-sourced data — thank you to all our contributors and please contact us if you are able to add information.
|Chicago - O'Hare
|O'Hare still has lots of regular PTS payphones, everywhere. It looks like they haven't removed any payphones since the 80s. Dial on, phreak.
|Lots of white courtesy phones that allow free local and long-distance calls. Call quality is great.
|Lots of white courtesy phones. You can't dial out directly but you can dial the airport operator and they will complete a domestic call for you.
|Courtesy phones allow local and long-distance calls.
|Courtesy phones available.
|Washington, D.C. - Reagan
|Courtesy phone inside Terminal 1 but not its baggage claim, and courtesy phone in baggage claim of Terminal 2 but not the terminal itself, so depending on where you are, you might be screwed.
|~5 payphones left at the airport, one in the C and D terminals and three in baggage claim.
|A few courtesy phones in the terminal. Local and toll-free calls allowed.
|Local and toll-free calls allowed. Airport-purchased calling card needed for long-distance calls.
|Some working courtesy phones. However, trying to use one of them with a TDD seemed to set off a security alarm so keep your wits about you.
|There is a bank of 3 courtesy phones in the entire 'C' concourse (Southwest). One phone is desginated for long-distance and no longer works since it's programmed to use (800) CALL-ATT. The other two work, though one has a broken 3rd column. However, only local and toll-free calls, no long distance. TDD works.
|No longer public phones in any terminals as of 2020, but you can ask at a gate or customer service to use the phone, or customer service in the main concourse. Some people are touchy this but others are nice.
|No telephones anywhere in the concourses themselves.
In contrast to airports, which are generally likely to have free courtesy phones, (large) train stations are much more likely to either have traditional payphones or no phones at all. In particular, Amtrak removed their last payphone from 30th St. Station in Philadelphia in October 2022. Some Amtrak stations still have payphones, but these phones are there due to local commuter rail agencies, not Amtrak; in particular, the stations are owned by a state transit authority, not Amtrak. Any Amtrak-owned train station is likely to not have a payphone.
|Trenton Transit Station
|Owned by NJ-transit; lots of payphones on both sides of the station.
|69th St Transportation Center (Philadelphia)
|Owned by SEPTA; several payphones.
|New York Penn Station
|1 payphone left in the Long Island Railroad Central Corridor. Coin slot doesn't work so you can only make toll-free calls.
|Rahway Station (NJ Transit)
|No phones left.
|Any Amtrak-owned station
|No payphones left. However, you can ask at customer service to use the phone. Sometimes, they will ask to see your ticket, dial for you, and impose a time limit. This is only for large stations; unmanned stations you are going to be out of luck completely.