LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — WiFi and cell phone service in underground Metro rail stations could make its debut later this year , according to officials.
KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports transit officials say plans are on track to have WiFi up and running at four underground Red Line stations by May.
While the contract for the project was awarded back in 2013, engineers were working to determine where to position a 2,000-square-foot “base station hotel” that will house equipment for cell phone providers that join the Metro network.
Another issue that had to be resolved was ensuring the system would not interfere with emergency communications, according to Metro spokeswoman Kim Upton.
“It’s a lot more complicated than it sounds because they have to match our frequencies with the frequencies of the safety folks in Los Angeles, that would be Fire and Sheriff’s and Police,” said Upton. “So they have to measure every few feet.”
Officials expect cell phone service for the trains should be in place by August. There are plans to expand the service to the Purple and Gold Lines by 2017.
While there are no official estimates on how many passengers would use the network, Metro official Daniel Lindstrom predicted the service would attract more younger riders.
“If you’re in your 20s, like my kids, they say, ‘Why don’t you have cell phone coverage in the subway? What’s wrong with you?’” Lindstrom said. “I’m just about to hit 50, and I think it’s nice to have, but I don’t necessarily expect it. And if you’re in your 80s, you say, ‘Just forget about it.’”
In a 2013 report to Metro’s Executive Management Committee, officials estimated the agency could net about $360,000 annually from the new system, which would allow riders with data plans to use the network free of charge.