Transit buses to offer wireless Internet next year

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The-Rapid-Bus

SAN DIEGO — Some bus commuters on three rapid transit routes in San Diego will enjoy wireless Internet access beginning late next year under a one-year pilot program approved Friday by the San Diego Association of
Governments Board of Directors.

SANDAG will spend $275,000 on the test project, which will start next fall on Routes 215, 235 and 237. Those buses run between downtown San Diego and San Diego State University, downtown and Escondido, and between Rancho Bernardo and UC San Diego.

A SANDAG staff report says wireless Internet access is one of the biggest requests by users of public transportation, but results in other cities have been spotty because of frequent coverage dropouts.

The pilot program will allow for coverage to be tested along the bus routes and give time for necessary adjustments to be made, according to SANDAG.

The hitch for riders is that current plans call for only six of the 47 buses that serve the routes to be outfitted with wi-fi for testing, a number that SANDAG staff deems sufficient for the test purpose. Passengers will also be surveyed about their experiences using the system.

If the tests go well and wireless systems are placed in all 47 buses — which could happen by fall 2016 — the total estimated cost would rise to $654,000.