Metro riders will now be able to make calls, listen to music, and scroll through social media while commuting without risking any service interruptions.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) announced yesterday (Wednesday) that it has finished establishing a systemwide wireless network, bringing WiFi to all 91 Metrorail stations and throughout 100 miles of tunnels.
The Silver Line in Tysons was one of the last three segments of the network to come online, along with the tunnels from Dupont Circle in D.C. to White Flint in Maryland and the Yellow Line between L’Enfant Plaza and the Pentagon.
According to a Metro press release, the project had been underway for more than a decade and involved partnerships with three major wireless carriers — AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon.
“Bringing this project to the finish line gives riders added security and all the conveniences of wireless connectivity,” WMATA General Manager and CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld said. “Customers can text, talk, and explore the internet and apps, including Metro’s mobile payment options to load value and manage their SmarTrip account while traveling on Metro.”
Congress ushered in wireless service for Metro with the passage of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, which included an amendment authorizing grants for WMATA maintenance projects and requiring the transit agency to ensure access to wireless provider services.
Funded by an agreement between Metro and the wireless carriers, the project required the installation of more than 400 miles of cabling and infrastructure. WMATA attributes the lengthy timeline to the fact that much of the work could only be done when trains were not operating, limiting workers to three or four-hour overnight maintenance windows and scheduled track outages.
The completion of Metro’s wireless system will improve the safety of Metro riders and workers, according to Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who helped facilitate the project with the rest of the D.C. region’s Congressional delegation.
“The federal government and the region have made substantial investments in making this system safer and more reliable, from rebuilding tracks to introducing new rail cars,” Warner said. “Now passengers will be able to use their cellphones underground throughout the system.”
Wiedefeld says systemwide wireless coverage will pave the way for Metro to implement technology that provides real-time communications with customers and allows the rail system to operate more efficiently. It could also be critical for enabling first responders to communicate in an emergency.
The wireless carriers will be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations and maintenance of their own networks, including testing and enhancements.
“This significant joint investment provides a communications network that allows each provider’s customers to stay connected with their friends, families and favorite content when using the Metro system,” AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon said in a joint statement. “The cooperative approach adopted by the Providers and WMATA was critical in bringing this project to fruition.”
Photo by Michelle Goldchain
For those hoping to get a jump start on their New Year’s resolutions, a new gym opened yesterday (Dec. 16) in The Boro.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the center focuses on helping people improve their cardio. On Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday participants will work on strength and resistance training. The center also offers mixed-exercise classes on Saturdays.
The location is running a promotion for a week of free classes if anyone is interested in the gym. After that, a studio membership costs $50 per week for unlimited classes.
Leading up to its official opening yesterday, the location offered trial classes for community members.
Classes take place throughout the day, beginning at 5:30 a.m. A full schedule can be found online.
Photo via F45/Facebook
Today: Coffee With a Cop — “Fairfax County Police and other law enforcement agencies will participate in National Coffee With a Cop Day on Wednesday, Oct. 3… Officers from the McLean District Station will be participating in National Coffee with a Cop Day at Peet’s, 7516A Leesburg Pike, Falls Church (Tysons Station) from 9 a.m.-11 a.m.” [Patch]
Watch Out for Deer — “Fall is here and white-tailed deer are on the move. Fall is the breeding season for deer and you can expect to see more of them on the roads as they search for mates. Deer are unpredictable and crashes with them are a safety concern.” [FCPD]
Mars Sells Drinks Biz — McLean-based Mars Inc., the maker of M&Ms, has sold its drinks business, which includes Flavia coffee, to the Italian coffee company Lavazza. [WBJ]
Tysons Firms on Coolest Cos. List — Per the FCEDA E-bird: “DC Inno compiled a list of D.C.’s ‘Coolest Companies,’ based on company culture and factors ranging from pet-friendliness to in-house happy hour availability. Level Access of Tysons Corner was rated among the five ‘All Around Coolest’ companies… Gabriel Marketing of Tysons Corner emerged tops in the ‘Best D.C. Tech Advocate’ category.” [DC Inno]
Fairfax County residents, along with the rest of the country, will be getting an emergency alert on their phone a week for today, but it’s just a test.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will be conducting a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) at 2:18 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 3. The so-called “presidential alert” test, of a system intended for use during national emergencies, was postponed to next week due to the flooding caused by Hurricane Florence.
On social media today, Fairfax County posted a reminded about the wireless alert test and that it shouldn’t be confused with the county’s Fairfax Alerts. Like WEA, Fairfax sends out public safety alerts about severe weather, though the county’s alerts also include traffic alerts and county government closures.
📱Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) test by @fema next Wednesday, Oct. 3, around 2:18 p.m. Your phone will make a loud sound and vibrate. But what's the difference between a WEA Alert and a Fairfax Alert? Check it out 👇👇 cc: @FairfaxCountyPD @ffxfirerescue @ReadyFairfax pic.twitter.com/jvO1HoNDGh
— Fairfax County Government 🇺🇸 (@fairfaxcounty) September 26, 2018
More on the test:
Don’t be surprised when your phone gives off a loud buzz next Weds. 10/3 at 2:18 pm! FEMA is testing the nation's Wireless Emergency Alerts system. It’s only a test, no cause for alarm. pic.twitter.com/n4IC7Ro0so
— City of Falls Church (@FallsChurchGov) September 26, 2018