John Marino via Flickr

John Marino via Flickr

Pittsburgh's Port Authority of Allegheny County light rail riders will soon be able to access the internet from smartphones and other electronic devices at high-volume rail stations as part of a seven-year agreement unanimously approved Friday by the authority's board.

The non-exclusive agreement allows Comcast to install "hotspots" at seven light rail stations in Station Square, downtown, and the North Shore, allowing users to make fast, free Wi-Fi connections while conserving their cellular data plans. There is no cost to Port Authority.

"We're excited to be able to provide this amenity to our riders,” said Port Authority CEO Ellen McLean. “This is yet another step in our ongoing effort to enhance the public transit experience, and will be invaluable once we roll out real-time tracking on our light rail vehicles.”

The Wi-Fi service, which is expected to be available by June, will be provided free to both Xfinity internet subscribers, who can sign in with their Xfinity user IDs and passwords, and to non-Xfinity subscribers, who can register upon accepting terms of use. As with all Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots, devices register once and will automatically connect for all subsequent sessions.

Comcast already provides service for transit patrons in Philadelphia, Boston, and southern New Jersey, as part of the nation’s largest Wi-Fi network with more than 15 million hotspots, including thousands in Pittsburgh.

“Comcast is pleased to leverage its continued innovation and investment in the Pittsburgh region to make it possible for transit patrons to stay connected,” said Christine Whitaker, sr. VP of Comcast’s Keystone Region. “This is a perfect example of public-private partnership that matches the priorities of the region and keeps us moving forward.”