Cell phone and Wi-Fi service wiring complete in 30 new stations
More of the underground is going high tech, as officials Thursday are set to announce the completion of Wi-Fi and cellular service wiring in 30 subway stations in Manhattan, sources told amNewYork.
Times Square, Lincoln Center, Columbus Circle and other stations, mostly on the West Side, stretching between 18th and 96th streets, are part of the Phase 1 of the service rollout, which has been happening gradually over the last few months. Wi-Fi, AT&T and T-Mobile are available, but it's unclear whether other networks will come.
Officials from the MTA, including newly selected chief Tom Prendergast, and executives from Transit Wireless, which built the underground network, will announce the phase's completion Thursday at the Times Square subway hub.
"Cell phone service in stations is great in emergencies, even if the emergency is just that you're late for dinner," said John Raskin, executive director of the Riders Alliance.
"Adding cell phone coverage in stations is a great example of something the MTA can do to improve service even when the agency is severely underfunded, which is certainly the case right now," he said, adding that service will make for a "much less frustrating experience to wait for trains."
The new stations are part of a broader plan that will deliver wireless service to every underground station by 2016, according to Transit Wireless.
Transit Wireless and the MTA declined to comment on the record for this story.
The next phase of service installation is set to be completed by the first quarter of 2014, sources told amNewYork, and it will focus primarily on wiring stations in Queens, along with a handful of stations in midtown and midtown west. Major stops will include the Main Street station in Flushing and a handful of stations along the 7, E, F, M and R lines.
After Phase 2, service is set to come next to the Lower East Side and Harlem, followed by the Bronx and Upper East Side, with the rest of the city to follow.
Still, not everyone is convinced that service in stations is a good move.
Ali Smolens, 27, of the West Villge, said being wired underground may rob New Yorkers of those few precious minutes when they're not plugged into their online lives.
"Being underground while riding the subway has been one of the only places in the city where everyone is on a level playing field in terms of digital connection," Smolens said.
"Not sure the five to 10 minutes of added connectivity will make you more productive," she said.
Added Kit Thompson of SoHo: "There are a lot worse things than chatting commuters or oblivious texters on the trains and platforms ... [but] if you're texting in the doorway and it opens and you are blocking my way, I will knock you over."
This story has been updated with new information about Phase 2's rollout date.