A northwestern Ontario mayor is hoping Bell will continue its payphone service despite being told it can't raise its payphone rates.

Bell, which serves the northwest outside Thunder Bay, asked the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to raise the rate from 50 cents to $1 because its payphone business "faces serious challenges."

The CRTC rejected the request last week.

Schreiber Mayor Don McArthur owns a business with payphones nearby and said he hopes they stay there so people "can get to a payphone and press zero and get an operator.

"Those are critical services," he said. "You can't always rely on a cell phone or some other method of being able to get a hold of people in an emergency."

Bell said none of its payphones in the northwest takes coins and they can only be used with credit or calling cards.

In Thunder Bay, the cost of using one of TBaytel's 400 payphones will stay at 50 cents and the company says it has no plans to raise the cost of a call or remove phones from service.