At Last, Wi-Fi on Buses

News from the Times-Dispatch: The GRTC Transit System in Richmond has begin equipping buses on its longer express routes with Wi-Fi service. Riders can use their transit time to respond to e-mails or do other work, says spokeswoman Kathy Shaw Clary. “It’s spreading more. It’s still pretty new.”

It’s part of a national movement to make mass transit a more attractive option to drivers as high gas prices prompt them to re-thinking their commuting habits. The technology has been around for quite a while. All I can say is… About time. Mass transit needs to embrace new technologies and market them effectively if they’re ever to gain market share from automobiles.

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9 responses to “At Last, Wi-Fi on Buses”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Ever try to type on a moving bus?
    At least on a bus you are likely to have a seat, and a lap to type on.

    Metro will probably get wi fi around the same time as they take out the last of the remaining seats.


  2. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    you don’t need wi-fi on city transit buses.

    the buses where wi-fi is popular is the same as trains – and that is the longer-distance, much fewer stops or non-stop commuter buses.

    Most of the commuter lots in the Fredericksburg went to full capacity during the recent gas price increase.

    In fact, some are so full – that police are ticketing “violators” (which is a double insult IMHO).

    at any rate.. longer term – higher gasoline prices …and HOT lane tolls will.. I predict.. result in many, many more commuter buses…
    and the buses with WI-FI will be very appealing to some folks – who, if nothing else, can read their email prior to getting to work….

    my understanding is that Amtrak offers this on their commuter trains also.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    “will.. I predict.. result in many, many more commuter buses…”

    When you have enough of them to offer half hour service, you might have something.

    Let’s see.

    Four commuter lots, 20 downtown locations, four hours of commuting:
    4x20x8 = 320 buses times $250,000 = 80 million, plus all those drivers sitting on their thumbs all day.

    Yep, that’s a plan.


  4. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Commuters Buses are often driven by folks – on their way to the regular jobs.

    Other Commuter buses become Charters for kids on school trips and other groups…

    make sense?

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    The winchester bus has a commercial driver. The bus goes into town and sits in a lot all day, then the driver brings it home.

    Some VRE trains are dedicated trips. They go in once, and then sit all day. Parked.

    If a commuter bus is driven by a part timer, that’s news to me, other than the vanpools. Anyway, a part time driver means that is a one trip bus: it goes in, and then it is parked all day.


  6. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Buses are often chartered for tourist groups and… business conventions, etc.. also…

    and I doubt seriously.. if a commuter bus driver…parks the bus and spends he rest of the day checking for ear wax… etc…

    Parking that bus is certainly no worse than parking the 40 cars it would replace anyway….

    safe to say that if parking were configured to provide bus parking as a priority – and SOV as whatever is left over – and priced accordingly… buses would get even more business…

    and that’s the point.

    if you charge what it really costs for car parking… instead of subsidizing it.. it is expensive and most folks don’t want to pay for it unless they have no other choice.

    this is why many folks don’t park at the airport.

    If they charged for parking at the airport the low/subsidized prices they charge in other areas – there would be no parking available at the airport..

    you’d circle for hours looking for a spot… you’d have to arrive 3 hours early… and there would be cars parked where they are not allowed…

    so the solution is simple.. you charge a rate that assures that there will almost always be available spots…

    and it works…and it is free-market .. quid pro quo transactions…

    if we did the same thing for other parking.. we’d get the same results.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    “and I doubt seriously.. if a commuter bus driver…parks the bus and spends he rest of the day.”

    All I know is that was exactly the case with the Winchester bus, as reported in the paper. Not enough passengers and not enough time to make two trips, so the busdriver napped all day on the bus.


    Yes, there are busses charted for tour groups etc. I don’t think there are any that are simultaneously in commuter service and charter: the tour business is a different business, and timewise they are incompatible, mostly.


    I’m not making any comment about bus vs car parking, or VRE, or Metro parking. I’m only pointing out that they are all necessary.

    But if you try parking a bunch of commuter busses in busness or residential neighborhoods, I suspect you will hear about it. That means you have animby problem on where to park them, and it will probably be someplace remote, meaning more nonproductive travel just to park the bus. Parking garages don’t usually support buses, so now you are talking about street level parking.

    Yes, buses are better in some respects, but when you look at the Whole picture, it isn’t nearly as good as it seems at first glance. (Gee, forty seats, never mind they travel empty much of the time, just as car seats do.)


    “there would be no parking available at the airport..”

    OK, so the airplanes can carry more passengers than you can park. some people take cabs, some people get dropped off, and some people elect not to travel. If you increase the cost of parking, you change the mix of decisions, including those that decide not to do business.

    Raising the price does NOT make more parking available, and it doesn’t increase the airports ability to do its job: which is carry more passengers.


    The situation you describe is NOT a free market, because there is no competition, and no ability for competition to enter. You can ONLY park in an airport controlled lot, and you can ONLY travel in a Washington Flyer cab.


  8. Anonymous Avatar

    Parking is not subsidized. It is paid for by the people who benefit from it. Employers need employees, and it is worth while for them to provide and pay for parking.

    We can argue whether parking should be counted as taxable income, but if you make it taxable to the employee, it is still a business expense for the company.

    Maybe there is government owned parking which isn’t charging enough to cover its costs. That would be a subsidy, but it isn’t a subsidy just because they charge less than they might be able to get.


  9. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    if parking is provided as an amenity for less than what it would cost to provide it on a free-market basis AND it’s not counted as compensation – then it is CLEARLY subsidized.

    In fact.. in many urban areas – a street-level parking lot is usually very expensive – to the point where it would be a significant expense to a worker.

    Parking garage slots cost thousands of dollars a year in places like New York… and even the employers don’t provide then gratis except for the big wigs…
    everyone else has to take commuter rail/subway/bus to work…

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