Mass Transit Mobile Wifi Travels at High Speed

Hinsdale - Chicago Train at StationAlthough they may drop now and then, gas prices are generally on an upward trend. It’s becoming more and more expensive to commute in a personal vehicle, so increasing numbers of Americans are taking mass transit to get where they need to go. A new study from DePaul University reports daily intercity curbside bus departures went up 32 percent last year. And the American Public Transportation Association has found that overall use of public transportation increased 2.3 percent from 2008 to 2010. In addition to the savings of mass transit, riders may be attracted to spending their commute surfing the internet, as more and more buses, trains, and planes are equipped with traveling WiFi.

As a case study in how public transportation vehicles can be outfitted with mobile WiFi equipment, let’s consider the Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority (VTA) and use of the WiFi In Motion Moovbox. VTA leaders installed this technology throughout their entire fleet of light rail trains in 2011. Some VTA buses were equipped with traveling WiFi, as well.

The WiFi In Motion Moovbox creates a “halo” of wireless internet around each bus or light rail train. An antenna that’s about the same size as a hockey puck sits on top of each VTA bus and train and creates an internet hotspot that moves with the vehicle. This cutting-edge technology can stand up to the elements while delivering reliable web access to passengers – and while delivering financial gain for the VTA. As Richard Bertalan, communications manager for the Santa Clara VTA, put it, “If you put somebody into a seat because of WiFi, it will pay for itself.” For this reason, many public transportation organizations are offering mobile WiFi for free to passengers.

With mobile WiFi, riding the light rail or bus can open up the time riders would otherwise spend driving. Imagine how much more productive and enjoyable commute time could be with web access. Commuters could get half their work done on the road. Kids wouldn’t be as wiggly or loud on public transit, since they’d be absorbed in streaming movies and TV shows. And all passengers would enjoy a more pleasant, fun ride home with access to their favorite sites. All of this is now possible with the WiFi In Motion Moovbox.

[Photo by: Tony Fischer Photography, via CC License]

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