Subway deal could bring in millions
- By Brian Robinson
- Jul 30, 2001
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) will pay nothing — and get millions of dollars in revenue — through a deal with Chicago-based
equipment and services supplier Andrew Corp. to install wireless antennas
in Boston subway stations.
The project is expected to be completed no later than the fall of 2003
and will allow subway riders to use mobile phones, receive wireless Internet
data on their laptops or handhelds and take advantage of wireless messaging
services on the underground system.
Andrew will pay all of the estimated $12 million to $15 million installation
cost and will collect revenue from payments made by the wireless companies
that want to provide services through the system. The MBTA will receive
a cut of those revenues, which officials believe could eventually total
over $2 million a year.
"Last year, we were presented with a five-year capital plan and a strict
budget under which we have to operate," said Lydia Rivera, an MBTA spokeswoman.
"Now we have to look for other ways to gets funds through the door. Andrew
Corp. made the presentation to us and, particularly since there was no cost
to us, we said "Why not?' "
Andrew has similar installations already running in Hong Kong's subway
system, as well as in other subterranean facilities such as New York's Lincoln
and Holland Tunnels.
There was some initial controversy about the Boston plan when people
objected because they thought that cell phone users would disturb their
daily commutes, Rivera said. In response, the MBTA will sponsor an awareness
campaign, stressing courteous behavior, and will designate special "wireless
free" cars on the subway, as well as cars given over solely to cell phone
Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore.
Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.