Muni may finally bring cell phone service to tunnels, pending a vote by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Tuesday September 20. (Rachael Garner/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Muni may finally bring cell phone service to tunnels, pending a vote by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, Tuesday September 20. (Rachael Garner/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Cell service finally coming to Muni tunnels

For as long as mobile phones have been in use, Muni train riders have gotten zero reception in its tunnels.

Zip. Zero. Nada. No bars –– no calls.

Now that may change, as a unique partnership may extend BART cell infrastructure into Muni tunnels.

The deal still requires a vote of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors Sept. 20, but was announced Wednesday morning by Board of Supervisors President London Breed and Nick Josefowitz, who sits on the BART Board of Directors.

Both were key in brokering the deal, which may be installed in 12-18 months after agreements are reached with cellular providers.

The cost of the project is perhaps unique in city government, according to Breed and the SFMTA.

“Not only is it not going to cost the city a dime,” Breed said, “we’re going to get paid for this.”

SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin said that’s because the major cell providers who partner with BART to provide service –– AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, t-Mobile and Metro PCS –– have an incentive to provide service for customers and are willing to pay the cost of installation and maintenance.

Josefowitz said the cost of installation may be about $6 million, tentatively, and Muni cell service would potentially be tied to a data center for cellular service housed in Civic Center station.

The deal may also require further approvals at the BART Board of Directors, Josefowitz said.

But, he added, extending BART’s deal with service providers to Muni was a no-brainer.

“There’s certain places on this planet where you don’t want to have cell service,” he said, “like Yosemite.”

But to not have cell service on Muni –– when getting delayed in a tunnel means you can’t call your family or an employer to say you’re late?

“That doesn’t make any sense,” he said.
BARTcell phonesMuniTransit

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

Advocates with the San Francisco Public Bank Coalition hold a rally outside City Hall before the Board of Supervisors were to vote on a resolution supporting the creation of a public banking charter on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Should San Francisco run its own public bank? The debate returns

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, momentum was building for San Francisco to… Continue reading

Apprenticeship instructor Mike Miller, center, demonstrates how to set up a theodolite, a hyper-sensitive angle measuring device, for apprentices Daniel Rivas, left, Ivan Aguilar, right, and Quetzalcoatl Orta, far right, at the Ironworkers Local Union 377 training center in Benicia on June 10, 2021. (Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters)
California’s affordable housing crisis: Are labor union requirements in the way?

By Manuela Tobias CalMatters California lawmakers introduced several bills this year that… Continue reading

People fish at a dock at Islais Creek Park on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
What Islais Creek tells us about rising sea levels in San Francisco

Islais Creek is an unassuming waterway along San Francisco’s eastern industrial shoreline,… Continue reading

Organizer Jas Florentino, left, explains the figures which represent 350 kidnapped Africans first sold as slaves in the United States in 1619 in sculptor Dana King’s “Monumental Reckoning.” The installation is in the space of the former Francis Scott Key monument in Golden Gate Park. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
What a reparations program would look like in The City

‘If there’s any place we can do it, it’s San Francisco’

Officer Joel Babbs, pictured at a protest outside the Hall of Justice in 2017, is representing himself in an unusually public police misconduct matter. <ins>(Courtesy Bay City News)</ins>
The strange and troubling story of Joel Babbs: What it tells us about the SFPD

The bizarre and troubling career of a whistle-blowing San Francisco police officer… Continue reading

Most Read