Earlier this year, SFMTA installed wireless routers and cellular antennas inside the Muni Metro tunnels. Now, we can also expect all 50 BART stations to have free (and readily accessible) WiFi hotspots in as little as three years.
Access to the internet has become a modern necessity for living. It's how we navigate — make sense of, acquire information to — aspects of our daily lives. And by 2024, BART riders can expect to not just really on their cellular data plans to access the World Wide Web at all of the rapid transit agency's stations.
For #Pride2021 our popular free short story dispensers at Richmond, Pleasant Hill, Fruitvale and Balboa Park stations now include LGBTQ+ poems and short stories written by LGBTQ writers. With ridership returning, we hope to create opportunities for local writers in the future. https://t.co/RFXAZLCBHE— SFBART (@SFBART) June 24, 2021
As reported by Bay City News, the wireless internet addition to all BART stations is part of the agency's Digital Railway program, an initiative that will help bring the BART system into the current day and age — making it easier for riders to answer calls and texts, and access the internet.
By leveraging its existing partnerships with telecommunications companies like Verizon and AT&T, BART intends to enhance wireless service throughout the system as well as in other local transit agencies; this is a similar plan of action that was taken to bring wireless signals to SFMTA tunnels back in April.
"We want to keep pace with modern technology and make sure that people can use the devices that they love and enjoy," said Travis Engstrom, BART's director of technology, to the BART Board of Directors on Thursday, per the news organization.
“This service will make sure that riders that normally, today, have long periods of no connectivity on those trains, they'll be able to have cellular service in the underground," he continued.
The program's first segment will see the installation of wireless internet service in late 2022 in the downtown San Francisco BART stations; the goal is to have all of the rapid transit agency's stations complete with free WiFi by 2024.
Janice Li, who serves on the BART Board of Directors, is also advocating that the WiFi will remain free and accessible to everyone — and won’t exist on some sort of "tiered service," which BART board directors could put in place.
"I'd be really careful about having any kind of tiered service," she adds. "I want to make sure that this is a benefit that all of our riders can access as equally as possible."
For a convenient map of free WiFi hotspots in San Francisco, click here.
Photo: Getty Images/Zeiss4Me