Tampa, Fla.'s Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) partnered with technology solutions provider United Data Technologies Inc. (UDT) to launch a fully Wi-Fi-enabled bus fleet, benefiting nearly 50,000 passengers each day.
Bus riders will now be able to stay connected without tapping into their own data plans thanks to this partnership. HART expects that adding free high-speed Wi-Fi to their 187-bus fleet will prove to be popular with the tech-savvy millennial crowd, many who attend college in the area and are frequent riders.
The agreement with UDT is to provide wireless connection for HART patrons for two hours at a time per bus ride. If the patron continues on the same bus over two hours, their connectivity will expire for 15 minutes then the connectivity will be restored for another two-hour connection on that same bus. The technical reasoning behind the 15-minute expiration is due to system configuration.
Installation began in February at an aggressive pace during non-peak hours and is just the beginning of a comprehensive "smart" card program that HART plans to roll out later this year, allowing passengers to travel the HART network using their smartphones.
According to a 2013 American Public Transportation Association survey, fully leveraging technology, including Wi-Fi, allows transit riders to be more spontaneous and helps undercut one key competitive advantage of cars.