New York’s low-key senior senator, Chuck Schumer, is urging the MTA to speed up its plans to make both Metro-North and the L.I.R.R. Wifi-enabled, which would mean wireless Internet for all those suitably equipped for it.
Schumer, who would go to the opening of an envelope, held his press conference at Bronxville train station…no word if he ducked into J.C. Fogarty’s for a pint afterwards.
Where my Wifi at?
Schumer wants to know why the transit system’s broadband study is taking so long.
“Why is Metro-North lagging behind? We don’t know,” Schumer said at the Bronxville station. If the MTA passes a plan quickly enough, Schumer said, it may be able to obtain federal stimulus funds for the work under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Rail systems in places like Boston and San Francisco already use or are setting up wireless Internet services. Amtrak is testing a system on its Acela Express trains that run between Washington, D.C., and Boston, passing through New York City.
“They’re almost inevitably an overwhelming success,” Schumer said.
The MTA responded that it just recently placed ads soliciting bids from Wifi providers, which are due in in September. Schumer concedes the rollout will take a few years, but says he’d like to see a pilot program in place in a few months.
Grand Central debuted wireless internet at the Station Master’s office waiting room in May 2008.
Paul Vitale, vice president of government and community relations for the business council, said the MTA should be out in front, providing wireless Internet before others.
“We should be a trendsetter,” he said, “not a follower.”