Why no wifi? Tech upgrades at three subway stations are slowing wireless rollout

Why no wifi? Tech upgrades at three subway stations are slowing wireless rollout
No wifi: Abe Assad is puzzled as to why he and other Bay Ridge Avenue commuters on the R line still don’t have wifi service.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

Three Brooklyn subway stations are still without wifi internet — despite Gov. Cuomo’s announcement that riders would be able to connect anywhere in the system starting on Jan. 9.

There’s no logging on at the Bay Ridge Avenue, 53rd Street, or Prospect Avenue stations — and riders may have to wait until the end of the year to do so, because the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is not turning on the juice until it finishes station upgrades at the three stops in the fall, officials said.

If the agency fired up the wifi now, it would just have to turn it on and off as it rebuilds the aging stations, a worker said.

“The station is being gutted. If they install things now, it would have to be taken out and then put back,” said a transit worker at the Bay Ridge Avenue station. “It wouldn’t really make sense to put everything in now. It’s easier this way.”

The authority will close the trio for about six months starting this spring to install new entrances, platforms, and countdown clocks — the first of 31 stations to get the facelifts under a Gov. Cuomo initiative to bring the transit system into the 21st century.

Trains will skip the 53rd Street station March to November and bypass the Bay Ridge Avenue stop from April to December. It is unclear what the timeline is for the Prospect Avenue station. But once the renovations are complete, the stations will join the rest of the subways with wifi and internet access, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Those with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless should now get cell service at 277 stations citywide, according to the transit authority. But 53rd Street and Prospect Avenue are not among them, a map of the service shows.

Southern Brooklyn straphangers appreciate that their stations are being spruced up, but some living off of the behind-the-times stops feel jilted they will have to wait another year to access wifi as they wait for their train, said one commuter.

“It’s a real bummer,” said Bay Ridgite Abe Assad, who lives near the Bay Ridge Avenue station. “I was wondering why all these other stations have wifi and not Bay Ridge Avenue. If they have it, why not us? I get that they’re upgrading the station, but I’m not crazy about having to wait. But what can you do?”

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2523. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.

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