Urban Fold

Enhancing Public Transit With Wi-Fi

Some transit agencies are hoping to woo riders by providing internet access on bus and rail vehicles, allowing commuters to check email and surf the web on the way to work.

"Laura Jones has a daily 45-minute commute aboard a King County Metro Transit (KCMT) bus to and from work. For this account coordinator at Lewis PR in Seattle, that's 90 minutes of lost productivity. So, you'll often find Jones with her MacBook flipped open, checking e-mail, surfing the Web, or doing something work-related, thanks to KCMT's free Wi-Fi access.

"45 minutes is a long time back and forth," Jones said. "So, any of that time I can use to do something productive is always worth it."

By deploying a wireless infrastructure, public transportation companies, like King Metro, are offering free Wi-Fi access for riders-an amenity that could help boost ridership.

"Rail and bus companies are using Wi-Fi to entice more passengers to use their service," said Esme Vos, an intellectual property lawyer based in Amsterdam and founder of MuniWireless.com."

Full Story: Is In-Vehicle Wi-Fi a Boon For Commuters?



Wi-Fi and Quality of Life

This article certainly presents a sound articulation of the benefits of Wi-Fi relative to enhancing the value of public transportation. I am left to wonder though about the broader implications of Wi-Fi in terms of the quality of life of riders. For example, I had heard that a handful of employers in the San Francisco-Bay Area were considering offering work credits to employees for the time they spent logged in while commuting to work via public transportation. Ideally this could serve as a catalyst for greater flexibility in employer work arrangements--one where employees could leave work earlier based on the hours they put in while commuting. Unfortunately my gut tells me most employers would likely attempt to use this commute time to "milk" more work time" out of their employees.

It is also interesting to note that this commute time for many employees is one of the few opportunities they may have to disengage from their work before they step back into the fray. In the same manner that many employees are increasing logging in at home in the evenings after a long work day, I could see employers ratcheting up the expectations during commute times.

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