BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
Waiting for the train just got a lot easier.
Queens residents will now be able to tweet, text and make calls underground, due to an expansion of cellular and WiFi service to 29 subway stations in the Borough. The MTA and Transit Wireless announced the expansion last Thursday at Court Square in Long Island City, which is one of the newly connected stations.
Other stops getting service include Queens Plaza, 21st St.-Queensbridge, Forest Hills-71st Ave. and Northern Boulevard.
Thursday’s announcement marked the completion of phase two in a seven-phase project to expand wireless and WiFi service to all 277 underground City subway stations by 2017, ultimately making it one of the largest indoor networks in the world, according to Transit Wireless CEO William Bayne.
For William Wheeler, MTA director of special project development and planning, bringing service underground will help the MTA appeal to millenials, its largest growing sector of ridership.
“These are people that, they don’t have a driver’s license because they care not to. They embrace transit, all types of travel, all times of the day or night, and they want to be connected,” Wheeler said.
The entirely-private funding for the more than $300 million project comes from Transit Wireless and the wireless providers – AT&T, TMobile, Sprint and Verizon Wireless – with sponsorship from Royal Caribbean International.
Stations are dispersed through the project’s phases based on geography and ridership volume, Wheeler and Bayne said.
Nearly 30 Manhattan stations received service in phase one of the project and phase two has added 11 more. Phase three, which will include the Flushing Main Street station in Queens, is underway.
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.email@example.com or @JNStrawbridge.