Transit Wireless (a majority-owned BAI Communications company) was selected by the NYCT and the MTA to design, build, finance, operate and maintain a Wi-Com network in New York City’s subway system. After breaking ground in Midtown Manhattan (Phase I) and continuing construction along the Upper West Side (Phase II), our next stop was Queens (Phase III). In this second installment of our four-part blog series, we will continue to explore the unique challenges we encountered deploying encountered in each borough, and the solutions Transit Wireless’ teams developed to overcome them.

Transit Wireless approached the building of New York City subway’s WiCom network by chipping away at it in phases — helping acquaint our team with any potential issues that may arise and allowing us to make adjustments to future builds as necessary. Although our teams learned a lot through our early deployments in Manhattan – from building out stations such as Roosevelt Island and St. Nicholas – 191 Street – we knew Queens had its own unique landscape.  We needed to customize our work in order to bring connectivity to its monthly ridership of more than 3.2 million people.

Just like the subway stations in Manhattan, work was difficult in the 24/7 subway: being mindful of train traffic/flagging and patrons use the facility hindered progress, as well as the Queens stations regular exposure to ever-changing weather conditions. One issue particular to expanding the WiCom network to Queens was attempting to build connectivity over, or in conjunction with, infrastructure for other communications networks. For example, the work done on the 7 line, parallel to the Van Wyck Expressway, already had equipment in place in the conduits, for the trains’ updated operational procedures. Without existing ducts for connection, we needed permissions from the Department of Transportation for the State of New York and other agencies, to excavate along this roadway for new connection points.

Another example of a challenging build in Queens was Howard Beach subway station. The design called for running all the wires above the platform, which was uncommon, but necessary; a nearby marsh made for a stream of water that would eventually damage the fiber. The New York City Department of Labor assisted our project by tirelessly pumping water out of the station, helping us to continue our work in a safe work environment. Running the cable through the ceiling was particularly difficult at the Howard Beach subway station because the ceiling material was uncommonly cumbersome, and took three to four more times the workforce than usual to move.

Expanding our WiCom network into Queens may have been more physically daunting than Manhattan at some points, but the work also became easier due to our growing familiarity with the network and its difficult landscapes; as well as our cooperation with other organizations working on the project. Designers, surveyors, architects, contractors, NYCT workers and Transit Wireless employees worked together daily to make our WiCom network a success. Queens gave us confidence to expand to the next borough on our journey: the Bronx.

For more info, read the first installation in the ‘Building in the boroughs’ series, Part I: Manhattan.