It looks like cell providers are going the "one for all, all for one" approach with the MTA's request for proposals for cellphone service in 277 subway stations: The Daily News reports that a consortium of cellphone service providers, in cluding Verizon and Cingular, will bid on the MTA's ambitious project. After announcing they wanted bids in August of last year, MTA's initial deadline was in the fall/early winter but they had to push it back because it so complicated. In fact, the MTA's engineers had to "clarify what the agency envisioned and how it could be accomplished." Hmm, given Gothamist's experience, we imagine MTA engineers are expecting the project to come in with a lot of overtime (the Times Square station renovated passage between the N/Q/R/W and 1/2/3 trains took about 50% longer than it should have...18+ months AT LEAST). Verizon said that wiring the DC Metro (a much smaller system) in the 1990s cost $18 million, so we'll guess the NYC plan for 277 of 468 stations (maybe the outdoor, elevated stops aren't counted?) will cost over $100 million. And for now, the plan is just for stations, not the actual cars, though the Daily News article seemed to imply that train service might be available between stations. All the more reason to plug into an iPod (except for the fear of it getting snatched thing)!
The MTA's site about "doing business with the MTA" is a hoot.
Photograph of man scrolling through his cellphone's menus from VincenzoF on Flickr; thankfully the plan will not include service on train cars...yet