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“Metro launches 45-day public Wi-Fi pilot at six Metrorail stations, seeks public feedback”

by Prince Of Petworth August 29, 2016 at 4:15 pm 22 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Julian Ortiz


“Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld announced today the launch of free public Wi-Fi at six Metrorail stations as part of a limited pilot program. The six stations selected for the pilot are: Metro Center, Gallery Place, Judiciary Square, Union Station, Archives and L’Enfant Plaza.

The service, part of the General Manager’s Customer Accountability Report (CARe) initiatives, will be available for 45 days. After that time, the service will be suspended while the pilot program is evaluated.

“We are listening to our customers’ ideas about ways to improve their experience riding Metro,” Wiedefeld said. “Having free access to Wi-Fi while on the platforms at Metrorail stations will allow customers to stay better connected while they travel. We are excited to launch the pilot and hear from our customers about their experience.”

Users will be directed first to a customized landing page that can connect customers to Metro’s Trip Planner, Next Train, and Customer Assistance features. From there, users also may access other websites on the free Wi-Fi. Similar to other public Wi-Fi, the level of service will vary based on how many people are signed into the service. Users will be responsible for data security, which will be explained in the terms of use notice that must be accepted before receiving access.

As part of the Wi-Fi pilot, customers will also be able to test the new “Where’s My Train?” feature. From the landing page, the Metro Train icon will take customers to an interactive map with real time train information. Users can tap on the train icon for additional details or click on a station to get train prediction times.

Metro customers are encouraged to submit their feedback at the bottom of the home page. The information will be used to assess the pilot with the objective of deploying Wi-Fi at all 91 Metrorail stations in the future.”

  • Hill Denizen

    Can they first get cell service to work consistently? I don’t need to be able to have a phone conversation but I should at least be able to text between stations. My Verizon phone completely cuts out between Smithsonian and Cap South.

    • CHGal

      My AT&T phone has no service between any stations. I’m always amazed that some people do.

    • Anonymous

      It’s possible that the technical hurdles Metro faced while trying to implement expanded cell phone service are far greater than trying to set up Wi-Fi. I’m concerned with the security of the system, and how much personal data Metro will collect.

    • Jerry Grundle

      It seems like they gave up ever finishing that project. It works pretty well in most stations, but I’ve never seen data service working on my Verizon phone between any underground stations.

      • Hill Denizen

        Just to clarify, I don’t get service between stations on my Verizon or ATT phones, but there seems to be a dead zone between Smithsonian and Cap South or maybe Federal Center where the signal on my Verizon phone is especially weak and even when the train is stopped at the station I get nothing.

        • JohnH

          Some are better than others. It’s obviously not a super strong signal and is not always consistent….some of it probably has to do with the limited amount of time your phone is back “in service” as it’s going in and out of service underground.
          The issue of cell service is up and down over the years – with some things taking precedence, agreements with cell carriers being an issue, etc.
          Metro announced this year they are installing cables themselves that will span the entire system that will improve service for radio and cell. Not sure on the time frame, but it’s part of their nights/weekend work.

  • jdc

    Still waiting on the functioning-during-rush-hour-without-a-breakdown pilot…

    • textdoc

      +1. Agreed. Maybe they’re hoping this will serve to distract people?

      • Anon

        This is exactly their hope – make some insignificant concession in hopes that folks using this public wifi forget that they’re waiting for 20+ minutes for the next train.

        • FridayGirl

          Actually, I thought they were supposed to do wifi a couple years ago (there had been a press release at one point). So hopefully this means in another 2 years we’ll get to the no-breakdown pilot…

          • Hill Denizen

            Or at least the no-breakdown press release.

        • Q

          I don’t think it’s insignificant. I, for one, would like for myself and firefighters to be able to communicate with the outside world if my train breaks down in a tunnel. Wasn’t that a big issue with the smoke event? I also assume that this work is being done by different contractors than the track work, so they should be able to do them both at the same time.

          • Anon

            I don’t think they aim to extend wifi into the tunnels with this pilot – just the stations named in the press release.

  • Susan

    This is a pickpockets dream!

    • lisavfr

      +1, Let’s encourage everyone to get their iPhone 6 out out and stand around on the L’Enfant station platform!

      • Anonymous

        You say that as if everyone isn’t doing it already.

      • Dave

        Wait, you actually don’t think people already use their phones while waiting for metro already?

    • Anon

      This is a silly pretense – most people are already glued to their phones.

  • Planer

    I hope the WiFi will be fire proof….

  • Anon

    Unsecured public wi-fi? Now I can have my phone AND my data stolen on Metro!

  • Q

    I admittedly don’t know much about this kind of stuff, but why do they need to do a pilot AND public comment, then suspend service until they make sure everyone feels heard? Do other cities do this? Is underground wifi so complex that they can’t just &#^&$ing install it and troubleshoot while it’s functioning?

  • JoDa

    Tried to connect to it yesterday at Metro Center. Wouldn’t open their landing page to begin a session. Had 3G at the time, so I switched back to my functional data.


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