VIA Metropolitan Transit will be the first large transit authority to install free Wi-Fi on all of its busses. The 4G service is being added with no additional cost to riders.
For many people, like student Dominique Marshall, VIA is their main form of transportation. “I ride it Monday through Friday, to and from school,” she said. John Dalasta is the same, but he uses it for work. “I use it to go where I have a temporary job right now and I don’t feel real safe driving because of a medical problem.”
Both of them are carrying smart devices like an iPhone or tablet as they wait for the bus near Main Plaza. They like the idea of VIA introducing 4G internet service on all 435 of its daily buses.
“It’s better than just sitting there being able to look at information,” Delasta said. “I take transfer buses that don’t have Wi-Fi, and sometimes I just don’t to use data,” Marshall added.
Previously, 3G internet was only available on the rapid transit VIA Primo line on Fredericksburg road and some transit stations. That’s now being upgraded to 4G across the bus system. VIA Deputy CEO Keith Hom said the connectivity will now be available for all buses and stations and will help bridge the digital divide. “VIA is all about making connections,” he said. “We make connections for people to work, school, to their medical appointments and now we’re making connections to the internet for our customers as well.”
This goes hand in hand with other technological advancements made recently. “I think that’s just a testament to a lot of the other things going on in San Antonio to make it the most connected city like Google Fiber and Bibliotech,” Hom added.
The Wi-Fi won’t be available at individual bus stops, but VIA is exploring adding connectivity to larger transfer stops like Five Points. VIA is spending close to $614,000 on routers for all buses in a one-time purchase and $369,00 per year on the service connection. Paratransit buses for disabled riders should be connected by November 1st.