$140 Million Project on Track to Bring WiFi to MBTA Trains

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) has plans to erect four 75-foot monopoles along the Ipswich section of the railway to improve WiFi service on trains, reported The Local News. An additional 320 monopoles are planned for the communities north of Boston, including Manchester, Gloucester, Beverly, Rockport, Hamilton, Wenham, Swampscott, Salem, Lawrence, Rowley, and Newbury.

The inMotion-managed project is being met with opposition by the community. “People are going to be looking at monopoles in their backyard,” town manager Robin Crosbie cautioned.

The MBTA says 41 municipalities on the north side commuter rail have been notified regarding 110 sites, to date. “Some municipalities have expressed concerns regarding pole installations; the majority have not raised significant concerns.” However, complaints say the MBTA was supposed to publish “proposed locations … in local newspapers requesting comments and input on potentially adverse effects to properties listed on or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places and located within a half-mile of the site.”

Due to concerns, MBTA announced at the end of June that they are conducting “a 30-day assessment of the project.” During the review, the MBTA is soliciting comments and feedback from residents, customers, plus elected and appointed officials; no construction of infrastructure will occur during this time.

The venture by inMotion will cost $140 million to install, with the onus on the vendor. MBTA will earn 7.5 percent of net revenues from leasing of poles, fiber, advertising and service fees. According to a presentation by inMotion to MBTA’s Fiscal Management and Control Board, “no costs are paid by the MBTA, its customers, or Commonwealth taxpayers.”

July 7, 2017

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