Public payphone users will now have to dig a little deeper. Telus has increased the price to use a payphone in Alberta from 35 cents to 50 cents.

As cellphone use increases, the demand for payphones has fallen quickly.

“Increasing the fee is going to allow Telus to keep more pay phones in place as the use continues to fall as our costs to maintain those phones remain largely constant,” said Chris Gerritsen, a spokesman for Telus.

He said the number of payphones has gone from about 38,000 phones in B.C. and Alberta in 1999 to about 20,000 phones currently. Specific figures for the Calgary area couldn’t be provided because it is competitive business information, said Gerritsen.

Gerritsen said the phones are an important public service even as demand for them falls.

They’re needed “if someone needs to call 911 or 411 for information or to call someone if their cellphone dies.”

He said the phones do still bring in revenue and the fee hike will help the company to maintain the phones still operational in the province.