San Francisco plans to provide cell service in Muni Metro subway

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — No more dropped calls on Muni.

Plans to bring cellphone service to the San Francisco Municipal Railway Metro subway were announced on Wednesday by Supervisor London Breed with San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and BART officials.

The plan is expected to be shown to the SFMTA board on Tuesday. It would contract with BART to expand BART’s current underground cell infrastructure to Muni Metro stations.

BART has already constructed the country’s first underground cellular network that allows multiple carriers to use the same equipment. The network is used by AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and Metro PCS.

The expansion of BART’s existing network to Muni is expected to take around 12 to 18 months once agreements are reached with cellular carriers. The carriers are expected to pay the costs of the construction as
well as annual licensing fees.

“Our plan not only improves the rider experience; it will actually make money for Muni,” Breed said. “It’s truly a win-win.”

Breed called the current situation, where riders cannot check emails or contact employers or family to let them know they are running late, “unfair and very outdated.”

Nearly 200,000 people ride Muni trains every day, and SFMTA director of transportation Ed Reiskin said they have been asking for cellphone service in the subway “for some time.”

“Providing cell service within the Muni Metro will help improve communications to our Muni riders, can assist in emergency situations, and will give the riding public an additional service they want,” Reiskin said.

The contract will go to the Board of Supervisors for approval after the SFMTA board vote.

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