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Free Wi-Fi Service Expanded

Posted on December 19, 2008

With the success of the Wi-Fi Commuter Rail Connect Pilot Project launched on the Framingham/Worcester line, Lt. Governor Timothy P. Murray today officially announced a plan to expand free Wi-Fi to all commuter rail lines.  Flanked by Transportation officials at North Station’s commuter rail, Lt. Governor Murray introduced Wi-Fi service to north side commuter rail customers, and emphasized the Administration’s commitment to improving commuter services for residents throughout the Commonwealth.

“The positive feedback we’ve received from commuters who are using Wi-Fi on the trains has been fantastic,” said Lieutenant Governor Murray. “It became clear early on in the pilot that this service should be expanded to all commuter rail trains, and is just one way we can improve commuter services in the Commonwealth.  I commend the MBTA and the General Manager on their efforts to expand this program.”

The Lieutenant Governor began working with the MBTA on this initiative when he was still the Mayor of Worcester, advocating that Wi-Fi service would help improve the connectivity and productivity of the workforce throughout Massachusetts.

"The Patrick-Murray Administration has a proven commitment to commuter rail service expansion," says Transportation Secretary Bernard Cohen. "Wi-Fi expansion is one important component of that commitment in providing a more convenient ride particularly for longer distance commuters."

Presently thousands of Worcester line customers have access to the internet using laptop computers, cellular phones, and personal digital devices.  The MBTA is prepared to duplicate this service throughout the commuter rail network.  Today’s initial deployment of expanded free Wi-Fi on commuter rail marks the kickoff of an important relationship between the T’s technology partners including AT & T, WAAV, and Terminal Exchange Systems.  Under the expansion project, of the T’s 410 coaches, 258 will eventually be equipped with wireless internet.   By spring 2009, at least two coaches per train set on all 13 lines will be Wi-Fi ready. 

With commuter rail ridership at its highest, and Worcester and Hingham commuter boat customers pleased with Wi-Fi access, The MBTA's General Manager expressed the importance of accommodating the customer.  “Providing customers with access to the internet connects them to their needs.  Whether it’s work, school, home, or surfing the web, access to the internet can help improve the quality of life for our customers, while at the same time help maintain our customer base.” 

Wi-Fi installation began December 1 on a schedule to retrofit 30 coaches each month until all 258 coaches are Wi-Fi enabled. As coaches become Wi-Fi enabled they will be put into service throughout the commuter rail system.   For customer convenience, a Wi-Fi logo will be posted on the exterior of a coach indicating Wi-Fi capability.     

Excited about the partnership, AT&T’s Vice President and General Manager for the New England Market, Steve Krom said, “Beginning the work with the MBTA to be the first in the nation to bring Wi – Fi service on board a train is a great opportunity for AT& T.  The expansion to the North side of the T’s commuter rail network moves us closer to providing thousands of transit customers across Southeastern Massachusetts with mobile internet access on their daily commute.”

Commuter rail ridership jumped 3.7% in October. Of 152,000 trips taken on commuter rail each weekday, 52,200 trips are from the North side commuter rail lines.

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