San Francisco Bay Area Bus-Fi scheme to dish out free, mobile internet

Public transport in the San Francisco Bay Area is to join the 21st Century now that AC Transit, one of the transit authorities in the region, is about to start testing WiFi on a fleet of 79 buses. The service will be free for riders (and freeloading WiFi addicts in following cars), and is due for a full rollout in mid-fall. The bus routes taking part in the test phase travel along three of the longest bridges in the area (the Dumbarton, San Mateo and Bay), which is intentional: having WiFi on longer routes makes it easier for passengers to justify getting out and booting up their laptop. The idea behind the scheme is to offer a competitive advantage for buses over other forms of transportation, but there are still a few questions about the concept of WiFi-enabled buses that this test may be able to answer. Number one on our list is "will passengers be willing to use their laptops on buses?" There's a glaringly obvious security concern here: you're asking to be mugged if you're happy with pulling out your prized laptop on a city bus. The other pertinent issue is priorities. For most commuters, having a reliable and comfortable service will always be more important than internet access. Finally, it appears that the program will be completely separate from the GooLink partnership that will eventually bring WiFi to the entire city. Joining up with the aforementioned scheme is certainly an avenue that the transit authority should look down, preferably before the state of California plunks down $340,000 of funding on the Bus-Fi scheme.

[Via WNN]