June 29, 2009 | 5 Comments

Wi-Fi on Trains and Buses?

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Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

I ride the MetroLink every day to work and I often end up not having much to do on the ride. Sometimes I read, call friends, or talk to people on the train. Now I’ve heard that New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority is considering putting Wi-Fi on light rail trains. I’ve got a Wi-Fi-enabled phone, so I love the idea. Internet in transit vehicles isn’t a unique idea. Right next door to Metro, Madison County Transit has implemented a Wi-Fi system on express buses. The MCT internet system is free to use for people over 18, and the agency has plans to expand in the future. Wireless internet on trains could let commuters check emails on the way to work. After work, you could use it to find fun places to visit around the city, perhaps using Google Transit. New York Senator Chuck Schumer supports the idea, calling for the MTA to hurry up with installation plans. What do you think about Wi-Fi on trains and buses?

5 thoughts on “Wi-Fi on Trains and Buses?”

  1. Steve says:

    Yes to trains, no to buses. Wi-Fi on the trains would solve the tunnel phone cut-out issue for many. More and more phones are wi-fi enabled. The train ride is also smooth enough to type on a computer. Not so much on a bus. Plus you have less room on a bus. Wi-Fi on the train would serve more people as well.

  2. Matt says:

    Steve – I originally wrote this post just about Wi-Fi on trains, but then changed it to include buses when I learned about MCT’s system. I agree with you. It would be difficult to maintain a Wi-Fi system across the 411 buses we operate. Metro has 87 rail cars – easier to keep Wi-FI running on those, plus it’s a fixed line.

  3. Jon Morgan says:

    Here in Seattle a lot of our suburban/express buses have wifi. Of course this is a particularly tech-heavy city, but we’re in the 21st century after all. I see no reason why transit systems shouldn’t eventually have full wifi and cell phone coverage (DC’s Metro contracts with Verizon to provide boosters which offer excellent coverage underground). We’re competing with cars, and this is one of the ONLY features I can think of that transit can offer while cars can’t.

    We’ve got to get out of old mindsets and really look at transportation from the user’s perspective. Cars offer nice, comfy seats. They have air conditioning (still hit or miss in mild Seattle) and sunroofs. They offer privacy and storage, flexibility and convenience. They are advertised and supported to a degree thousands of times greater than transit. Each trip seems free as you only periodically have to get gas, while transit trips cost a fare every time (not to mention the shocking lack of HOV lanes and low gas tax in MO). Transit can’t compete on all those fronts, but when we’ve already captured all the riders by necessity, we really need to focus on attracting more riders by choice. There are clearly many elements to this, including TOD and land use policies, as well as financial incentives and disincentives (toll the highways, raise gas taxes, remove transit fares), but one of them is the vehicles and the ride you get. The more amenities transit vehicles can offer, the more riders we’ll lure from cars.

  4. Michael Pirtle says:

    Wi-Fi on buses and trains is just lure common sense. Plus it would more than likely increase passengers. People ride the trains and buses to work and alot of them do some kind of work or read. All of this is done on pads, tablets and phones. It’s a No Brainer………..

    1. Matthew Hibbard says:

      Michael, all the more reason to test this technology so that it can be applied systemwide. As you very well made known, those that use transit are quiet productive during their commutes.

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