BART directors will vote on system-wide Wi-Fi system

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Improving public transportation is part of Building a Better Bay Area.

BART directors are set to vote on Thursday to improve cellphone and Wi-Fi services across the transportation system, including inside stations and train cars.

If approved, the "BART Digital Railway" proposal will go in effect and the Board of Directors will sign with a third-party vendor, Mobilitie, to bring Wi-Fi and Bluetooth infrastructure and improved cellphone coverage to the BART and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency systems within 5 years, officials say.

Mobilitie is the country's largest private wireless infrastructure company and the four-phase plan first calls for BART and SFMTA to work with the company to add underground cell coverage to three Muni tunnels: Sunset, Twin Peaks and the Central Subway within the three years of the project's start.

The next phase would require Mobilitie to add wireless services in all BART stations within four years. The third phase is to extend wireless service from the stations to the new "Fleet of the Future" train cars and the final phase includes installing new commercial fiber optic cables along some BART and Muni right of ways.

All four projects are expected to generate $243 million of revenue over 20 years, officials say.

"We must bring our technology up to date and expand broadband coverage to better compete in the transportation market and provide convenient, easy to use transit," BART General Manager Bob Powers said.

There is no word yet how much riders might have to pay for the service.

Stay with ABC7 News for the latest on this proposal.

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