Improvements to the Commuter Rail’s WiFi Service Coming Down the Tracks
During daily trips along the Commuter Rail, customers often complain that the WiFi service is inadequate, spotty, and unreliable.
The commuter rail would be infinitely better and more productive if the wifi actually worked well.
— Megan Kingston (@Megan_Kingston_) July 22, 2014
Attempting to use the MBTA commuter rail wifi is on par with slowly and deliberately plucking individual arm-hairs.
— lisa santaniello (@LisaJS91) July 18, 2014
But the MBTA is going to change all of that.
On Thursday, the transit agency announced a new partnership with inMOTION Wireless, Inc., which will bring better quality WiFi connectivity to all Commuter Rail trains, as well as several key transit hubs, and the T’s commuter boat services—but at a cost.
“This is a very exciting time for our Commuter Rail system,” said General Manager Beverly Scott in a statement about the upgrades. “While the introduction of new locomotives and new coaches will continue to improve on-time performance rates, customer service initiatives like WiFi and eTicketing make the overall commuting experience an even better one.”
According to the MBTA, inMOTION Wireless will install a $5.6 million system along all 14 of the Commuter Rail lines, and at South, North, and Back Bay Stations. Officials said that the 22-year license agreement between the MBTA and inMOTION will come at no cost to customers or the T.
The system will be tiered, giving riders the option to either tap into a regular WiFi system for access to free, limited internet services, or opt for a more high-speed service at $15 a month that will allow for “premium” data and video streaming. The MBTA will receive 7.5% of net revenue received from the WiFi program, according to the transit agency.
While access to the Internet promises to be much faster than what’s currently provided to customers using the Commuter Rail, the installation process will take some time. According to officials, implementation of the expanded network will begin this fall, and the full system will be in place within 18 months. InMOTION will install, operate, and maintain the system.
The MBTA first introduced WiFi to the Commuter Rail in 2008, and last year put out a Request For Proposals to find a company willing to step in and bring improvements to the free offering.