Posted April 12, 2013

Golden Gate Transit Pulls Plug on Current WiFi System While Reliable Solution Sought

In September 2011, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District Board of Directors authorized a contract to add WiFi equipment on the buses. Providing free onboard WiFi was seen as a means to both sustain riders as well as draw new riders, particularly on the longer commute trips from San Francisco north to Santa Rosa.

In 2012, Golden Gate Transit installed the WiFi equipment under a contract with the London-based Global Reach Corp. at a cost of approximately $245,000. Golden Gate Transit turned on the WiFi service in spring 2012.

Over the year, the WiFi system has proven to be consistently unreliable due in large part to the geographical variations in the region GGT serves, not an uncommon problem among transit operators.

The WiFI service was shut down, effective April 12.

GGT is working on an improved 4G system that uses the existing equipment by upgrading it to 4G and thereby improving reliability of the bandwidth that is needed with multiple users on a transit system. It is likely that at least 6 months is needed before we can report back to customers with an update.

Additional Background

This August 16, 2012, article in PC World magazine speaks to some of the challenges associated with providing WiFi on public transit systems: http://www.pcworld.com/article/260976/wi_fi_on_buses_and_trains_better_service_ahead.html.