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WiFi on buses

This sounds interesting.

Beginning today, VIA Metropolitan Transit bus riders who power up their portable electronic devices — such as laptop computers or Wi-Fi-enabled cell phones — might notice an Internet signal coming from within the bus. VIA has started a monthlong pilot program offering free wireless Internet on some express routes to determine whether riders would use the service. If it’s popular, the agency could begin equipping more buses with wireless access.

“What we’re trying to figure out with the pilot program is how much interest there is out there,” VIA President Keith Parker said. “We think there may be a considerable amount. And if there is, we plan to roll it out on a much larger level.”

Next year, VIA will be adding hybrid-electric, full-electric and compressed natural gas buses to its fleet, Parker said, and Wi-Fi technology could be added to them.

“Before we make the investment (in the Wi-Fi technology), we want to make sure customers would use it,” he said.

Hey, more WiFi is always better than less WiFi, so I say bring in on, VIA, and may Metro look with favor upon this as well. I have no idea how popular this will be, as I kind of doubt too many people will break out their laptops while on the bus – among other things, bus rides are usually bumpy; I wouldn’t want to risk having my laptop slide off my lap – but at $50 a month per bus for the service, it doesn’t need to be used much to be worthwhile. I hope that VIA and other local transit entities will give some thought to empowering smartphone users in other ways, as being able to predict when a bus will arrive and knowing where it will go would be a large enticement for potential riders. There’s a lot of ways that the ubiquity of smartphones can make the transit experience better, and many of them are very low cost. A forward-thinking transit authority should take advantage of them in every way it can.

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