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T to expand WiFi on commuter rail system

Posted on October 10, 2008

As published in the 10/10/2008 Metro Newspaper

BOSTON. The MBTA is planning a broad expansion of free WiFi access throughout its commuter rail system, building on a pilot program launched on the Worcester line in January.

Friday afternoon, the T will ask its board of directors to authorize a $1.39 million contract to equip 258 coaches with wireless Internet, which includes upgrading WiFi equipment on about 50 Worcester line coaches. Upon approval, the T hopes to begin installation in December on a schedule of 30 coaches a month, or one per day.

Under the plan, every trip on every commuter rail line would have at least one WiFi-ready coach, and many will have more, according to MBTA General Manager Dan Grabauskas.

“Over the summer, we refined what we wanted to learn from the pilot, and we got phenomenal customer feedback,” he said.

In August, about 2,200 more riders took the commuter rail on an average weekday compared with the same month in 2007, largely due to high gas prices. Though gas prices have fallen in recent weeks, Grabauskas hoped the convenience and productivity WiFi offers will keep commuter rail ridership strong.

Once the WiFi is installed, the T plans to evaluate its usage and decide later whether to equip the remainder of its more than 400 coaches.

Greg St. Martin


(Update from the MBTA:  On October 10th, the T's Board of Directors voted unanimously to approve the expanded WiFi project.)

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