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Ferry pilots allowed to chat on cell phones for "business"

Cabbies can’t use their cell phones when on the job, neither can bus operators nor subway conductors. But one private ferry company allows its pilots to chat away while navigating the rough waters of the Hudson.

NY Waterway, a company that runs several ferry routes to the city, allows its captains to use their phones for business purposes, as they are often more reliable than radios, a spokesman said.

“More and more the cell phone has replaced the radio,” he said.

One chatty pilot was recently spotted gabbing on his cell phone during the entire trip from Hoboken to the World Financial Center.

“It scared me frankly,” said David Pollock, an advocate for taxi drivers, who thinks it’s hypocritical that the city is ticketing hacks who drive and dial. “It definitely was not business related.”

NY Waterway carries 2,500 passengers a day on the service where the captain was spotted chatting.

A company spokesman said that boats are exceedingly safe, with only one passenger accident in over 23 years (a woman fell running to the boat).

“The track record speaks for itself,” said the spokesman, who did concede that talking when the boat was docked would be “a better opportunity” for communicating.

A spokeswoman for the New York Water Taxi, the city’s other major private commuter ferry service, said cell phones are only to be used by pilots during emergencies.

“That’s prohibited,” she said. “They don’t just chat and drive. It’s a safety issue.”

Cell phones have been involved in deadly commuter accidents, including a Los Angeles train crash in 2008 where 25 people were killed seconds after the conductor sent a text message.

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