Mayor Emanuel Announces Chicago Transit Authority Now Offers 4G Wireless Service Throughout All Blue Line Subways

November 18, 2015

With Completion of Red Line by End of 2015, CTA will be the Largest Public Transit System in the U.S. with 4G Coverage in all Subway Stations and Tunnels

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced the completion of 4G wireless coverage on CTA’s Blue Line. The project is the latest milestone in Mayor Emanuel’s goal to bring 4G wireless coverage across CTA’s 22 miles of subway stations and tunnels on the Blue and Red Lines, CTA’s two busiest rail lines.

The project, expected to be completed by the end of 2015, will make the City of Chicago the largest city in North America to have a subway system with full 4G wireless coverage across its entire system of subway stations and tunnels. The network upgrade, which began earlier this year, will give millions of Chicago subway riders a faster mobile experience throughout their commutes. The design and installation of the system will create approximately 50 jobs.

“Blue Line riders no longer will have to worry about losing cell phone service on their way downtown or on a trip to O’Hare,” said Mayor Emanuel. “By the end of this year, CTA will have full wireless coverage throughout its subways as part of our continued effort to invest in 21st century technology for Chicago’s world-class transit system. The coverage will also improve communications for first responders working inside the tunnel system.”

CTA Blue Line riders now have full 4G wireless coverage throughout 13 miles of Blue Line subway sections near O’Hare Airport, Logan Square and downtown Chicago. Crews recently completed the Dearborn Subway tunnels that serve the Division, Chicago, Grand, Clark/Lake, Washington, Monroe, Jackson, LaSalle and Clinton stations, as well as the section leading to O’Hare. The Kimball subway, serving the Logan Square and Belmont stations, was completed in October.

Activation of 4G coverage in the Red Line subway is expected to be completed by year’s end.

The 4G wireless project is a $32.5 million agreement brokered by the Chicago Infrastructure Trust,with the four major wireless providers – T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint – to finance the network modernization. In January 2015, T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint collectively agreed to fund the design and construction of a next-generation Distributed Antenna System (DAS) capable of supporting the latest 4G wireless networks and mobile devices.

“4G wireless coverage throughout our subway system is our latest effort in improving the customer experience through technology,” said President Dorval R. Carter Jr. “This coverage will also increase safety measures by providing more reliable communication between CTA personnel and emergency responders.”

“With 4G LTE service now available throughout the CTA Blue Line, Chicago public transit riders from O’Hare to downtown will have the four largest wireless providers in the U.S. – T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon and Sprint – to connect them to friends and family throughout their commute,” said Jennifer Silveira, Vice President of Engineering for T-Mobile.

This initiative is one of several efforts by Mayor Emanuel and CTA President Carter to modernize the City’s infrastructure and further improve Chicago’s world-class transit system. Over the past four years, several technology improvements have been implemented across Chicago’s transit system, including expansion of CTA Train Tracker and Bus Tracker functionality, digital displays with service information at bus shelters and rail stations throughout the service region, and a dramatically expanded security camera network.

About the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)

The CTA operates the nation's second largest public transportation system and covers the City of Chicago and 35 surrounding suburbs. On an average weekday, more than 1.6 million rides are taken on CTA buses and trains.

About the Chicago Infrastructure Trust

The Chicago Infrastructure Trust was created in April 2012 by executive order of Mayor Emanuel and City Council resolution. The Trust’s purpose is to assist the people of the City of Chicago, the City government and its sister agencies in providing alternative financing and project delivery options for transformative infrastructure projects. Visit the Trust's website at www.chicagoinfrastructure.org


# # #

Back to news