Cellphones and other wireless devices could work better on BART trains and stations if the transit agency's Board of Directors approves a "BART Digital Railway" proposal at its meeting Thursday.
The four-stage plan will bring new Wi-Fi and Bluetooth infrastructure and improved cellphone coverage to the BART and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency systems within five years, according to BART officials.
The proposal calls for BART and the SFMTA to partner with Mobilitie, the country's largest private wireless infrastructure company, to add underground cell coverage to three Muni tunnels -- Sunset, Twin Peaks and the Central Subway -- within three years of the project's start.
The next phase would require Mobilitie to build new wireless systems in all BART stations within four years.
The third phase of the proposal would extend wireless services from the stations to BART's new "Fleet of the Future" train cars. The final phase involves installing new commercial fiber optic cables along some BART and Muni rights of way.
All four projects are expected to bring in more than $243 million over 20 years, with all capital and operating expenses being borne by Mobilitie, according to BART officials.
"We must bring our technology up to date and expand broadband coverage to better compete in the transportation market and provide convenient, easy to use transit," BART General Manager Bob Powers said.