On the 40th anniversary of the cell phone, the Chicago Transit Authority rolled out a bit of cell-related news of its own: A future plan for robust wireless coverage on the Blue and Red Line subways.
“To be a world-class city, Chicago must have a world-class infrastructure, so that people can get around the city efficiently, safely, and productively,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a statement. “CTA is investing in all aspects of its infrastructure, from rails to stations to wireless access and as the quality of the service continues to improve, I am confident more and more passengers will use the system to get to work and school and enjoy their lives.”
For the next four weeks, the agency is accepting information from wireless telecommunication companies to determine particulars of the plan, including how the design, financing, installation, operation and maintenance of the system will work in the 11.4 miles of CTA’s Red and Blue line tunnels and underground facilities.
Both the Red and Blue lines have wireless service in certain segments of the underground. According to the CTA, fees generated from the third-party licenses would be split with the managing vendor and agency.
Currently, the CTA owns and leases its subway cellular network to six major wireless service providers, which generates an annual revenue of about $1.8 million.
The news comes as the transit agency wages a PR campaign touting the beenfits of its widely-panned Ventra payment system coming this summer.
At least the mayor is well-aware of the smart phone habits of his rail-riding constituents: