While cities across the country are implementing wireless networks to turn themselves into ‘hot spots’, transit agencies are using the rapidly growing technology to allow riders to stay connected to work and friends. Now instead of hearing people’s private conversations, riders will be able to hear the tap-tap of people scrolling through their email or reading the news online.
San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) has become the first transit system in the nation to offer wireless communication to all passengers on its trains underground. Five of the Bay Area’s six wireless companies have signed up to use the system, Rae said, and the sixth is in negotiations. The arrangement will generate hundreds of thousands of dollars, and eventually millions, for BART.
While not all commuters see the benefit of underground cell-phone service, it could help stave off fare increases. BART’s deal with the phone companies for downtown San Francisco will bring in at least $408,000 a year. As additional stations, tubes and tunnels are wired, that amount could rise to more than $2 million a year.