Can you hear me now? Cell service is up for Verizon customers on Red/Purple Line in DTLA

My colleague Anna enjoys a nonsensical cell phone conversation deep beneath Union Station. Photo: Steve Hymon/Metro.

My colleague Anna enjoys a nonsensical cell phone conversation deep beneath Union Station. Photo: Steve Hymon/Metro.

The three quick takeaways:

•Cell Service for Verizon customers is now available between Union Station and 7th/Metro Center on the Red/Purple Line subway. 9-1-1 calls can be made.

•Sprint and T-Mobile have signed up to provide service and negotiations continue with AT&T.

•The next phase will extend service from 7th/Metro to Wilshire/Western on the Purple Line.

Here’s the news release from Metro: 

Cell Service Now Available to Verizon Customers in Metro Subway Stations and Tunnels along the Red/Purple Lines

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), in partnership with InSite Wireless Group and Verizon, now provides the first phase of underground wireless service for Verizon customers on the Metro Red/Purple Lines between Union Station and 7th Street/Metro Center Station in downtown Los Angeles.

“We applaud Verizon for being the first of what we anticipate will be all wireless network providers to come on board and provide cellular service in our subway tunnels,” said Metro Board Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas. “This reflects a significant technological enhancement for our Metro Red and Purple Line riders who can enjoy staying connected while traveling underground.”

Metro and InSite Wireless Group, the firm under contract to provide the needed equipment for the service, also announced that Sprint and T-Mobile have signed-up to provide service which will be available in two to three months. Negotiations are on-going with AT&T.

“After a lot of planning and coordination, Metro is pleased to offer the first phase of cell service to our riders,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “More will be coming over the next few months and will enhance our customer experience.”

Verizon customers with 4G LTE devices will have access to HD Voice and data services. Emergency 911 calls can also be made. In the event of an emergency, riders are reminded to first contact the train operator via the emergency intercom system located on board trains and on station platforms. Riders also can use the text feature on the Transit Watch app on their smartphones to report issues directly to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

“Verizon customers depend on their mobile devices to stay connected throughout their busy days. Bringing our 4G LTE network to the LA Metro system is part of our continued effort to provide a best-in-class network experience for our customers wherever they live, work and play,” said Greg Haller, Pacific Market President for Verizon.

The wireless service is accessible throughout the busy 7th Street/Metro Center Station, including the platforms for Blue Line and Expo Line trains.

In the next phase of the program, wireless service will be provided on the Purple Line between 7th Street/Metro Center Station and Wilshire/Western. The service is expected to be up and running on by fall 2016.

Subsequent phases of the program will then expand the service on the Red Line from Wilshire/Vermont Station to the North Hollywood Station in the San Fernando Valley. Service will also be provided on Metro Gold Line underground stations in Pasadena and in East Los Angeles. Those expansions should be completed in 2017.

9 replies

  1. The news release says that “The wireless service is accessible throughout the busy 7th Street/Metro Center Station, including the platforms for Blue Line and Expo Line trains.” That’s good to know, as I was concerned that the service would be limited to the Red/Purple lines.
    The news release goes on to mention plans to expand the service to other underground segments of Metro rail routes, but makes no mention of the underground segment of the Blue and Expo Lines between 7th/Metro and Pico, nor of the Expo tunnel near USC. Are there any plans to expand this service to those tunnels?

    • Hi Eric;

      I’m told should be cell service on the Blue/Expo Line from the platform area to where the tracks emerge on Flower.

      Also, the Expo Trench as well as the Colorado Box and Mariachi Station (Gold Line) are slated to get cell service in 2017.

      Red Line all the way to North Hollywood is to be installed in 2017.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. Verizon Wireless service has been up between 7th Street/Metro Center & Union Station for the past month. I can say that the 4G LTE signal quality is really good with full bars. I didn’t expect to have reception between station on the train, but it worked really good. I hope to see this roll out throughout the whole system and into the San Fernando Valley.

    Do you happen to know if the Purple Line extension to Wilshire/La Cienega will have the cell repeaters installed in conjunction with rail construction?

    • Hey Tony,

      Over the past month it was still officially in testing stage. Glad it’s working well for you though!

      Will check on plans for cell service in extension.

      Anna Chen
      Writer, The Source

    • Hi Tony;

      Metro is hoping to have cell service in all new rail lines up and running when they open — Crenshaw/LAX Line, Purple Line Extension and the Regional Connector.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. We’ve been using it between 7th/Metro and Union Station for a while now. I’ve not gotten any voice calls through and several times there was no reception but 90% of the time I’ve had 4 bars and 4g the whole way, able to text and surf.

    • Hi Kari;

      Here’s what Metro staff tells me — Since you can surf the web, it means you may have a phone that is LTE/HD Audio capable. It appears that its HD Audio is not activated and needs to be activated in order to place and receive phone calls. There was a time period where Verizon was providing phones with HD Audio turned off — about to the end of January 2016. Since then, they have provided phones with HD Audio turned on.

      Hope that helps!

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  4. […] SBLA has been noticing recent social media mentions of Metro subway riders receiving texts while on board. Metro CEO made it official today, announcing that, from Union Station to 7th Street Station, wireless service is operational for Verizon customers. According to Metro “Sprint and T-Mobile have signed-up to provide service which will be available in two to three months. Negotiations are ongoing with AT&T.” More details at The Source. […]