Can Train WiFi Help Build a Stronger Economy?

Cheyenne Frontier Days Train - Pierce, Colorado Train WiFiHigh-speed rail is key to a strong American economy going forward. As it stands, highway congestion currently costs the country $130 billion per year. What’s more, America’s population is predicted to grow by 100 million in the coming forty years. To provide for the future of convenient, affordable travel in America, the Obama administration has allocated over $10 billion for high-speed and passenger rail projects across the U.S. The goal is to provide 80% of Americans with access to a high-speed rail network within 25 years. To reach that goal, the administration has proposed an additional $53 billion investment in intercity and high-speed rail over the next six years.

That investment would be an economic boon for tens of thousands of Americans. It is estimated that 24,000 new jobs will be created for every billion dollars America invests in rail projects. The Obama administration’s proposed rail networks would be composed of four “Mega Regions,” namely:
The Midwest, linking Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, and St. Louis
California, linking Sacramento, the Bay Area, L.A., and San Diego
The Northeast, linking Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC and points south
The Northwest, linking Vancouver BC, Seattle, Portland, and Eugene
From these major corridors, smaller lines would be built to connect nearby boroughs.

Of course, for this national travel strategy to work, Americans must be lured out of their cars. Many of us are accustomed to driving to regional destinations, rather than taking the train. Bus public transit WiFi research suggests that new train riders could be attracted through train WiFi. A survey of 1,000 bus riders found that 91.3% of them planned to use mobile devices while en route. Moreover, nearly half (45.7%) of riders surveyed said that WiFi is an important factor when arranging travel plans.

For both private and public transit, mobile WiFi adds real value to the customer experience. With train WiFi available, passengers can catch up on work and emails, socialize online, and enjoy online entertainment options. Considering that Americans now consume an average of 5.9 hours of digital media per day, it seems natural that passengers would prefer to ride to their destinations with WiFi access.

By luring riders to new rail options, WiFi can assist in building a stronger economy. Consider the economic growth from rail development in a single Mega Region, such as California. The state’s High-Speed Rail Authority predicts that rail construction in California over the next 25 years will result in 450,000 new permanent jobs and 600,000 full-time temporary jobs during construction. The new rail system will provide economic support for California and for the nation, especially if it is successful in luring passengers away from air and car travel. WiFi can draw in new train riders, just as it has done for bus transit groups across the country. Learn more about SinglePoint’s solutions for keeping public transit agencies connected.

[Photo by Jerry Huddleston via CC License]