NYC Subway riders will soon be less able to blame their subway commute for not being able to immediately answer that all-important email or text.
Last January 6sqft highlighted Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to get all MTA subway stations connected with free Wi-Fi by the end of this year as part of a comprehensive plan to upgrade subway infrastructure. According to AMNewYork, plans to implement free Wi-Fi in all 279 of the city’s subway stations are on track for the end of this year; as of Tuesday, 250 of them are already up and running.
This month ends a five-year rollout of wireless connectivity in New York City’s subway system that kicked off in 2011. The MTA and Transit Wireless, the company that the MTA hired to provide the service, had originally planned wrap up the Wi-Fi plan by the end of 2017, but in January of this year–with the project about halfway complete–Cuomo announced an accelerated plan that would have stations wired a year early.
The governor has been a vocal champion of outfitting the state-run MTA’s subway and bus system–the world’s largest–with cell service and wireless internet service as a way to “modernize and fundamentally transform” the system and build “the 21st century transit system New Yorkers deserve.”
In a statement following the announcement, Cuomo said, “Today’s world demands seamless communication and we challenged the MTA to accelerate implementation of this project because the need for connectivity doesn’t end when riders head underground. Modernizing the MTA and delivering technology riders need is about setting ambitious goals and meeting challenges head on — and that’s exactly what we’re on track to accomplish here.”
Connectivity in stations will be a significant benefit for riders, who will be able to stay connected with transit updates and will no longer have to see productivity end when entering the station. Connected stations will have the by-now-familiar blue stickers posted on platform columns and walls.
Riders asked for comment looked up briefly from their phones to report that they enjoyed the upgrade in service so far, and that getting online has been quick and easy: In the words of Will Ferdinand, a subway busker from East Flatbush, “You tap connect and — boom — you’re connected.” Others have pointed out that the next step should be to put Wi-Fi on trains to keep from being disconnected between stations. According to the website for Transit Wireless, the company hopes to bring Wi-Fi to riders within tunnels eventually.
In addition to Wi-Fi coverage, Gov. Cuomo’s plan for upgrading the MTA infrastructure includes expediting the addition of more countdown clocks, adding contactless payment by 2018, implementing cell phone service by the end of 2017 and outfitting both subways and buses with USB chargers.
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