BART expands wireless access to Transbay Tube


BART expands wireless access to Transbay Tube

BART customers who subscribe to the major mobile phone companies can now use their mobile phones and wireless hotspot devices to make calls or surf the web as they go under the bay between San Francisco and Oakland.  Over the weekend Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile turned on their networks inside the Transbay Tube.  In fact, BART passengers now have a continuous wireless access from the West Oakland BART Station all the way to Balboa Park.
"We are pleased to end 2009 by enhancing wireless amenities to our 160,900 customers who ride through the Transbay Tube each weekday," BART Board President James Fang said.  "Underground wireless service has been expanded to the Transbay Tube thus providing seamless above and below ground mobile service for BART customers riding between Oakland and San Francisco.  The best news is that the installation and operational costs are paid by the providers—not by BART.  The wireless providers are Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile."

In 2001, the Board authorized staff to develop a privately financed underground wireless telecommunications system to provide cell phone use and Internet access for the entire BART system. In May 2004, BART was the first public transit agency in the nation to provide underground access to all wireless companies and their customers. This access provided mobile service in the downtown San Francisco stations and tunnels between Embarcadero and Civic Center.  In 2005, BART expanded the service area to 16th, 24th, Glen Park and Balboa Park Stations and then later to the tunnels that connect those stations.

Highlights of BART’S Wireless Service

  • This additional service expansion completes 35% of the tunnels and eight of the 16 underground stations.
  • Projected revenue to the District from wireless providers for underground service for FY-10 is $742,896.
  • Installation and operational costs are shared between wireless providers, with no cost to the District.
  • Seamless wireless service above and below ground.
  • Latest technology (voice/e-mail, video and Internet service) offered by wireless providers to their customers.

By the first part of the next decade, more tracks that are underground are expected to be wired for wireless use. Upcoming installation projects are planned as follows:

  • First quarter 2010, Oakland WYE, 12th, 19th and Lake Merritt Stations)
  • Second Quarter 2010, Ashby, Berkeley, North Berkeley Stations and connecting tunnels
  • Third Quarter 2010, Berkeley Hills Tunnel
  • 2011, South San Francisco, San Bruno and connecting tunnels.