The remainder of the bus fleet and all the agency's light rail vehicles will be equipped with free passenger Wi-Fi by early next year.
“We’re excited to be able to make investments like this that improve our customer's comfort and riding experience,” Kelleman said. “Free Wi-Fi will better connect passengers who are on-the-go and start to bring our system into the future."
Free passenger Wi-Fi was included as part of a necessary upgrade of previously existing modems that were used to broadcast vehicle location and other communications information. The upgrade cost the authority $2.4 million up front and about $400,000 a year.
The signal is about as fast at 4G LTE, allowing customers to surf the web and check email, but probably not fast enough for large downloads or high-definition video streaming.
Free Wi-Fi is the authority’s latest investment in technology aimed at enhancing the customer experience. Earlier this year, the authority added 59 new buses equipped with USB ports to allow customers to charge their mobile devices.
Next year, Port Authority will be rolling out a mobile payment application that will allow customers to pay their fare with their smartphones. Port Authority also is working with the nation’s top cellular service providers to offer mobile connectivity in the underground portions of the light rail system where reception is currently poor or not available.