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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

BART expands wireless access to Transbay Tube

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BART customers who subscribe to the five 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/Nextel, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and MetroPCS 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/Nextel, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and MetroPCS."

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.

This additional service expansion completes 35 percent 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.

In another story, on January 5, 2010, BART will close the street elevator at Powell Street Station in order to demolish and replace the structure that houses the elevator entrance on the street level. BART will shut down the elevator for approximately three and one-half months during this construction, expecting to finish this work by April 30, 2010.

This elevator closure is part of a major project to reconstruct the street elevator enclosures on the elevators of the BART/Muni Metro Stations at Civic Center, Embarcadero, Montgomery and Powell. BART is conducting this necessary replacement work to update the elevator enclosures to current standards, extend the life of the equipment and improve the reliability of the elevator.