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America gets WLan in buses


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In a big plus for mass transportation, city transit services have begun to offer wireless service to riders. Commuter buses, city buses and some commuter trains in more than 20 U.S. cities now offer wireless Internet, according to an informal survey by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

Colorado Springs, Colorado’s Mountain Metro Transit was the first to offer WiFi on its buses in 2004.  It is now also available in Cincinnati, Ohio; Dayton, Ohio; Seattle, Washington; San Francisco, California; Reno, Nevada; Austin, Texas; Boston, Massachusetts and the 45-mile trip to Worcester, Massachusetts; New York City and surrounding areas; Salt Lake City, Utah and surrounding areas.

Transportation officials said the wireless service has been well received and predicted its popularity will grow. APTA President William Miller predicts wireless Internet will become a service riders expect. "When I was a kid, you never thought of having an air-conditioned bus," he said. 

The cost to outfit a bus with wireless capability is not excessive, ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 for each. The Utah Transit Authority claims that the number of unique wireless users on its buses has increased from about 500 at January's start-up to 2,500 by the end of March.

Not all cities are enthusiastic about adding wireless services, however. The Washington D.C. Metro Area Transit Authority indicated that it had no plans to initiate wireless service at this time or in the foreseeable future.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is, however, thrilled that it has added wireless to its 45-mile rail line between Worchester and Boston since this past January. According to Deputy Chief of Staff, Kris Erickson, “it is probably the most well-received enhancement that we've ever done."

Last modified on 14 April 2008
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