Tag Archives: MTA

LIRR and MetroNorth RFP for Train and Station Wi-Fi

We missed this item last week, but it seems that the MTA has put out an RFP for Wi-Fi service on LIRR and MetroNorth trains and at stations. You can download the PDF (3mb) or view it inline.

NYC MTA Wireless Broadband RFP 2010 http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf?document_id=33695734&access_key=key-2cfhbxywxnmhy0ffu4t6&page=1&viewMode=list

Glenn Fleishman of Wi-Fi Net News has a great writeup about this RFP, which leaves a lot to be desired:

The MTA wants a service provider who would operate a network to bear all the expense of installation and operation (including railroad labor costs for same), provide 24×7 customer support, and uninterrupted service.

But the proposal is pretty muddled. While digital advertising (changeable signs on board trains and at stations) should be part of a bidder’s thinking to minimize the cost in installing such systems, there’s no spec for those systems. A bidder can build a bid partly around offering such services. The MTA also likes bids in which the authority shares in revenue.

I don’t see how this could fly. No sensible firm would propose taking on all this expense without any assurance of revenue beyond the public Wi-Fi side of the system. Despite the large number of passengers, many of those most likely to pay already have 3G service on smartphones or through laptop cards. There’s no operational services component, and that should be the baseline for any new rail RFP of the last five years.

NYC MTA Looking to add Wi-Fi Services to LIRR and Metro-North Railroads

Esme Vos of MuniWireless just sent us a copy of an RFEI (Request for Expressions of Interest) she received from the NYC MTA about their interest in adding Wi-Fi internet access aboard LIRR and Metro-North Railroads and in stations. The RFEI is just a preliminary step in what many New Yorkers (and NJ and CT residents) think is a sorely missing feature of the MTA’s rail lines, given how many other railroads both in the US and in the rest of the world offer Wi-Fi.

There’s no mention of “Free Wi-Fi”, but that’s to be expected as this type of service is both expensive to install and requires a lot of maintenance, both costs that the MTA is likely unwilling to bear. This means that if Wi-Fi is to become available on the LIRR and Metro-North Railroads, its going to be as a for-pay service to commuters and riders. The big question the MTA is looking to answers is: What’s the best infrastructure technology to use to provide Wi-Fi internet aboard trains.

The RFEI has lots of details about ridership numbers that I haven’t seen posted elsewhere, which should help any company understand the number of users each train is likely to have. Interestingly, Metro-North riders are more likely to have internet access at home or at work (92% vs 90%) and Metro-North riders are more likely to have mobile internet access on cell phones and PDAs (42% vs 27%).

Also not discussed at all is the fact that many LIRR stations already have Wi-Fi internet access as provided by Cablevision on Long Island, though riders must be Cablevision subscribers in order to access the network.

Request for Expressions of Interest in Broadband Wireless on Trains and in Stations http://d.scribd.com/ScribdViewer.swf?document_id=17219578&access_key=key-18mseo4j9ev7iwm6v7xs&page=1&version=1&viewMode=