BART, the region's rail transit agency, is negotiating with a private company to install a wireless network that would allow riders to check email and access the Internet.
"The San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District, is negotiating with a startup for a Wi-Fi network that would provide fast Internet access to riders throughout its 104-mile (167 kilometers) regional rail system.
BART would not pay anything for the network, which would be paid for by rider subscriptions and advertising, according to Wi-Fi Rail, a company based near Sacramento that says it has four patents pending on its Wi-Fi technology for predetermined paths such as railways and roads.
Municipal wireless networks have had a hard time financially, but public transit offers a daily captive audience that is growing as gasoline prices rise. Wi-Fi Rail estimates that within three years, as many as 20 percent of BART's 180,000 regular riders will subscribe to the service, according to Michael Cromar, chief financial officer of Wi-Fi Rail.
Wi-Fi Rail has been testing the system for about a year on a stretch of track in downtown San Francisco as well as on an outdoor test track. More than 9,000 people have signed up to use the system and have signed on more than 42,000 times, Cromar said."