METRO-NORTH INAUGURATES COAST TO COAST SERVICE; METRO-NORTH AND CELLULAR ONE INTRODUCE 'RAIL-CALL'
NEW YORK, Jan. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Metro-North customers can soon find out what's happening in sunny California on a cloudy day in cold spring. Starting Sunday, Jan. 17, Metro-North and Cellular One(R) will launch cellular phone service on 32 rail cars systemwide. The imminent arrival of "Rail-Call" was celebrated today by Metro- North President Donald N. Nelson and Tim Donahue, Cellular One president and general manager. After a brief "telephone cord-cutting" ceremony in Grand Central Terminal, customers were allowed to familiarize themselves with the new equipment by making free phone calls. "Providing cellular phones to our customers will help us accomplish two goals," said Mr. Nelson. "First, Metro-North will benefit from additional revenue these phones will provide -- both from phone usage itself and perhaps from enticing more people to ride the railroad. Second, our customers will benefit from this amenity by always being just a phone call away -- whether it is from their offices, their homes or just the latest weather report." The Technology Offers Multiple Benefits "Cellular One service on Metro-North trains and in Grand Central Terminal is an innovation we are pleased to provide for the general public and our customers," said Mr. Donahue. " Rail-Call' becomes part of our vision to provide mobile communications that are flexible to adapt to people's needs and lifestyles. It is another realization of how cellular can simplify people's lives." "Rail-Call's" charges have been kept to a minimum. There is no "set-up" fee, a service charge to customers for just attempting to use the phone. Likewise, there is no minimum usage required that would add to the cost of a "quick" call. Phone calls can be made to any location in the continental United States for just $1.75 per minute, plus tax. Payment is made with a credit card or a regional Bell company calling card. First-time cellular phone users need not be daunted by this technology. In addition to a visual display on the face of the unit, the phone is also programmed with a voice which "talks" the customer through the process of making a call. Beginning Monday, Jan. 18, and continuing for two weeks, Cellular One and Metro-North representatives will be on board the 32 cars equipped with cellular phone booths. They will extend to passengers the opportunity to make a free cellular call and will instruct them in using the phone. As part of the "Rail-Call" introduction, half-price calls will be offered from Feb. 16 through March 2. Thanks to lessons learned from other transit systems offering cellular phone service, Metro-North installed its cellular phones inside a specially made phone booth. This booth ensures privacy for the caller and a quiet ride for the rest of the customers in the rail car. "Rail-Call" has some unique features to help serve customers better. The phone is self-diagnostic, which means it actually makes its own "trouble call" to Cellular One when it is broken, ensuring quick repair. The unit also has several speed dial buttons, including one for Cellular One's information services, such as stock quotes, weather and sports reports, and trivia questions and information. Cellular One has installed a specially designed mini cell in Grand Central Terminal near track 14. This mini cell provides service for portable phones used inside the terminal. Cellular One customers will benefit from the introduction of this mini cell since they will be able to continue, initiate or receive calls while inside Grand Central. Cellular coverage will be available throughout most of Metro-North's service territory, including Grand Central Terminal. While there is currently no coverage in the Park Avenue Tunnel, service is available along the entire New Haven line, including its three branches, the Harlem line all the way to Brewster North and the entire Hudson line, with the exception of a "dead spot" in Garrison which will be rectified later this year. To determine which trains have "Rail-Call" on board, customers can refer to the Metro-North timetables which take effect Jan. 17. Decals will direct customers to the "Rail-Call" car, once that customer is on board the train. Metro-North and Cellular One will monitor the "Rail-Call" program continually during its first year of operation. If the program proves successful, Cellular One will provide coverage for the Park Avenue Tunnel and will work toward providing service to the remainder of the Harlem line north of Brewster North. Also, within five years, one-third to one-half of the train car fleet will be equipped with cellular phones -- covering 100 percent of all scheduled trains. Once Metro-North has evaluated its experience with this new service, the Long Island Rail Road may opt to outfit its fleet with cellular phone service. In the terms of the agreement between Metro-North and Cellular One, the railroad will receive an 18 percent commission on billed revenues. This percentage could translate into $1 million to $2 million by the sixth year of service. Total cumulative revenues over the first six years are projected to be $5.5 million. In New York, Cellular One provides service in the five boroughs of New York, Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island and Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties. In New Jersey, it services Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic, Union, Hudson and Somerset counties. To serve Metro- North's customer base in the state of Connecticut and Dutchess County, Cellular One has arranged for cellular service from neighboring cellular service providers. Cellular One is part of McCaw Cellular Communications Inc. and LIN Broadcasting Corporation, which is 52 percent owned by McCaw. McCaw and LIN are the nation's leading providers of cellular service. McCaw has ownership positions in more than 100 cities across the United States. The Cellular One Group, formed by McCaw and Southwestern Bell, licenses the use of the Cellular One name to cellular service providers in 304 markets. These markets reach more than 217 million people, or 86 percent of the U.S. population. -0- 1/12/93 /CONTACT: Donna Evans of Metro-North, 212-340-2507, or Jane O'Donaghue, 201-967-3568, or cellular number, 201-294-2404, or Robin Traum, 201-967-8709, or cellular number, 914-649-5486, both of Cellular One/
CO: Cellular One ST: New York IN: TLS SU: PDT
WB-CK -- NY087 -- 4056 01/12/93 12:55 EST
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|Date:||Jan 12, 1993|
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