February 27, 2014

Kansas City to introduce Wi-Fi on buses

Mo.-based Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) announced that all of its MAX vehicles and 22 Metro buses will be equipped with free Wi-Fi powered by T-Mobile by the first week of March.

KCATA is conducting this pilot to determine the demand for Wi-Fi on buses. KCATA will also assess how well existing technology can meet the needs of riders.

"Our riders are generally very connected and technologically savvy,” said Cindy Baker, director, communications. “We are excited to provide a way for them to stay connected while they are riding the Metro, whether they want to check e-mail to get ready for the workday or just relax and surf the Web.”

Nationally, the percentage of buses with Wi-Fi access has increased from 0.5% in 2008, to 1.1% in 2010, to 3.8% in 2013. Millennials, who are a growing part of Metro ridership, are especially interested in filling their time on transit with using mobile devices online and being productive while riding transit.

Part of the reason MAX buses were selected for the pilot is due to the high ridership on Troost MAX and Main St. MAX, and their proximity to University of Missouri-Kansas City and Rockhurst University, both of which provide the U-Pass transit pass program to students.

In March 2013, Kansas City became one of the first major metropolitan areas where T-Mobile launched its 4G LTE network, providing local customers with increased capacity, reliability and even more consistent speeds.

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