MTA looks to bring Wi-Fi to L train’s East River tunnel
Let there be Wi-Fi.
The MTA announced Friday that it’s looking for a real estate license to bring broadband and wireless cell service to the L train’s tunnel under the East River.
The move, which would allow straphangers to use their phones and other devices between First Avenue and Bedford Avenue on the L line, would make the line the first under-river subway tunnel with full connectivity.
“Providing full connectivity to our millions of customers is a part of our continued push to modernize the MTA system,” said MTA Chairperson and CEO Patrick Foye. “We’re working to deliver full connectivity across our system and allow our customers to use their commuting time to meet their needs, whether it’s texting with friends and family or communicating with coworkers.”
The MTA has previously worked with providers like Transit Wireless, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon to roll out broadband connectivity for stations across the city. The agency is currently working with wireless service provider Boingo to bring broadband connectivity to the Long Island Rail Road’s tunnels under Atlantic Avenue station in Brooklyn, and the tunnels the LIRR will use to access Grand Central Terminal when East Side Access opens in 2022.
The MTA currently maintains broadband cell connectivity in the Queens-Midtown Tunnel and the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel. It has since issued a request for proposals for the L train’s East River tunnel. Proposals from companies are due on Jan. 13.
The agency is hoping crews can minimize impact to customers by working during outages related to the L train project — a projected 15-month shutdown-turned-slowdown of the line to repair damage to the Canarsie Tunnel caused by Superstorm Sandy.
The service change began in April, with L trains running every 20 minutes between Manhattan and Brooklyn and every 10 minutes in Brooklyn and Queens all nights and on the weekends.
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