Re: Life line for the homeless
Public phones are a public good, and should be retained at as many locations as possible. As you've mentioned, Danny, claiming that "most people" have mobile phones doesn't cover all the situations. Leaving aside the coverage/battery/credit issues, mobile use can be monitored. I'm not particularly talking about tracking, even though we know it can be done relatively trivially, but simply by looking at call logs and Internet history. I know women whose male partners went through their phones every day to see who they'd been calling. These women desperately wanted to be out of the relationship, but couldn't use their phones to call support organisations or the police. Easily accessible public phones would have saved them anxiety and beatings. Children have similar problems, but they may not have a mobile at all.
Public phones should be much more accessible than they are now. As someone down-thread mentions, they don't necessarily need to be in ornate boxes. Shops and fuel stations would provide some protection from vandalism, for example, and would probably see regular usage because if the number of people passing through. This isn't an insurmountable problem, and we can roll back the post-Thatcher assault on civil resilience.