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The Wireless on The Bus Makes The Wheels Go Round and Round


There’s wifi on this bus! Photo by RACINGMIX

Transit with wireless is an incredibly attractive way to travel. And apparently AC Transit, a regional bus agency in the San Francisco Bay Area, agrees, providing wireless internet on all their buses crossing the San Francisco Bay.

leeonbus.jpgYesterday I had an action packed day of transit; I took BART from North Berkeley to Union City, then hopped on a bus with wireless that crosses the Dumbarton Bridge to Palo Alto, or so I thought. When I realized I was on the wrong bus, and figured out that there were no more buses coming, I had no other option but to take a cab.

Fortunately that afternoon I got on the right bus, an AC transit Transbay bus with very fast wireless, and fast service too: it took me just 38 minutes back to Union City!


Using my wireless on a Lufthansa flight.

I have now used wireless in the air, on a bus, in a car, and on rail. If you’re like me, and you like staying connected, wireless on mass transit is the way to go. It’s also a nice perk for people who might otherwise consider driving in private car to get to their desired destination.

Read about my other travel adventures here.

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  • I started working for myself last year and switched over to everything virtual. The machines I had to use at my corporate job I now get from virtual services. So instead of a handset phone, I’ve got a VoIP service that routes everything to my cell, I really don’t need a printer, and I use my laptop for everything else. I work on the BART all the time. I have clients fax me using this sort of internet fax. I’ve been reading a lot on the minimalist blogs lately and it seems like this is a huge trend in urban areas right now. Let’s hope it continues because the way things are going now we definitely have limited time on this planet.

    Great article to show people how to ditch their car. If more people did this, we wouldn’t be where we are right now.

  • That’s a very good point, Catalina. The amount of travel and commuting people do that isn’t necessary is simply phenomenal. So many tasks which are done at the office can easily be completed at home, saving time, energy, road space, etc.

    For some time there has been an office culture that developed when there weren’t the types of technologies that exist today. And that culture hasn’t changed fast enough to keep up with the technology.

  • Maria Catalina Ochoa

    I agree that connectivity is very helpful when traveling… But I have to say I am a bit worried about what Lee says that “Being connected all the time doesn’t just substitute for travel, it complements it”. I wish it substitute it!

    I wish better connectivity meant less “business traveling” – We already know that tourism related flights will keep on increasing at least at the constant 6% level that it has been growing since the 1950 (around 850 million international trips last year and is expected to double by 2020). Aviation, already accounts for around 4% of GHG emissions, which has a huge environmental cost. Technology should allow people to work from home, have videoconferences and avoid flying so much for business.

    I just hope having internet connections in flights and cars is not encouraging people to move more, otherwise we might prefer them to stay plugged in their office and contributing less to global warming.

  • Carlos

    Sorry to be the one with the black hat, but if I had wireless on a bus (or BRT) here in Bogotá, I am sure I wouldn’t be able to get off the bus (or station) without getting mugged for my laptop. Maybe the next step is to have some low-cost pcs on the bus?

    But… again with the black hat, I actually prefer not to be connected all the time. I have refused a Blackberry from my company for that reason. So maybe I’m not part of Lee’s group of “those who like to be connected always” (even though I seem to!).

  • lee schipper

    let’s just be sure no one tries to read wireless while driving!

  • Brian

    This is great! Anything to get peopel to ditch their cars and use transit is a good thing. Thank you for sharing this.

  • DC2NYC has WiFi on their buses too.

  • The airlines discontinued the internet access because there were too few buyers at that price. The rail connection on Swedihs Railways was great, because there was a huge blockage of the tracks and the train, normaly the fast X-2000 between Goeteborg and Stockholm was rerouted and 2 hours late getting to Stockholm. No matter, I used skype to call ahead and explain I was late.

    A car picked me up at the Houston airport last month, and it had the fastest internet (via sattelite) of ANY connection I have ever had by any means.

    No reason why this can’t work on cruise ships (satellite) or ferries. the key attraction is that there is something to do. The challenge is how you use this if you are standing, but the SF Municipal Railway is experimenting with terminals on buses one can use standing up.

    There is a downside to all of this connectivity. Being connected all the time doesn’t just substitute for travel, it complements it. I have done five or six meetings and even presentations by video or phone, but I confess that global access means I don’t really have to sit behind my desk to stay connected.

  • What a fantastic idea. I am a traveler by nature. I live my life “on the go” and am always looking for dependable, cheap (read: free) and fast internet access while on the move. I am also looking forwards to ditching the need to drive my own vehicle for daily travel to-and-fro, so this technology is another step in the right direction. Great article!

  • What about the sea Lee? We need to find a way for you to skype from the high seas!

    Albuquerque, my home town, launched the Rapid Ride in 2004 with highspeed internet as a way to attract students and business people and children’s books as part of a child literacy program.