Wi-Fi on Winnipeg Transit buses could be available free of charge as early as Jan. 1, 2018, as part of a pilot project recommended for approval at this week's Standing Policy Committee (SPC) on Innovation, Councilor Cindy Gilroy, Chair of the SPC on Innovation, and Mayor Brian Bowman announced today.
“This is an exciting proposal that could help improve the passenger experience,” said Gilroy. “As well, this pilot project would be an opportunity for Winnipeg Transit to examine innovative ways to use this technology to further improve operational efficiency as well as operator and passenger safety.”
“We need to continue looking at ways to apply innovative solutions not only within transit, but also across all areas of the civic service,” said Mayor Bowman. “This is precisely why I committed to and established a standing policy committee for innovation so we can better ensure creative and innovative thought is used to improve the quality and efficiency of the services we provide to Winnipeggers.”
If approved, the pilot project would provide free Wi-Fi to transit passengers on up to 12 buses, on various routes, throughout the 2018 calendar year. Buses providing the service would be clearly marked to indicate that Wi-Fi services are available, and online tools NAVIGO and Winnipeg Transit’s website would also allow passengers to determine if their bus is Wi-Fi equipped.
The free Wi-Fi system would include security systems to filter user traffic to ensure City of Winnipeg infrastructure is not used for undesirable purposes. Throughout the pilot program, there would be consultation with bus operators and other transit staff to determine how the technology could be used to improve safety and security for both bus operators and passengers.
In addition to providing Wi-Fi services to passengers, Winnipeg Transit would also study what opportunities could exist to use Wi-Fi technology to improve transit operations, such as providing more frequent location updates from buses. At the conclusion of the pilot project, Winnipeg Transit would report back to the SPC on Innovation outlining non-identifiable usage patterns of public Wi-Fi users.
It is recommended that funding for the $300,000 pilot project come from the 2016 Innovation Capital Fund. As such, the project has no impact on Winnipeg Transit’s current operating budget.
The administrative report is available for review on the City of Winnipeg’s Decision Making Information System.