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Caltrain to add $1m to budget to provide onboard WiFi access

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  • 11/1 Palo Alto Daily
    Published Wednesday, November 1, 2006, by the Palo Alto Daily News Caltrain board mulls Wi-Fi access By Liz Harrelson A push to provide wireless Internet
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 2, 2006
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      Published Wednesday, November 1, 2006, by the Palo Alto Daily News

      Caltrain board mulls Wi-Fi access

      By Liz Harrelson

      A push to provide wireless Internet access on trains running up
      and down the Peninsula may soon get a boost, as the Caltrain Joint
      Powers Board is being asked to grant the project $1 million to fund
      startup costs.

      The Caltrain Joint Powers Board on Thursday will consider amending
      its $106 billion capital budget to include an additional $1 million
      for the landmark project that will allow passengers to wirelessly
      connect to the Internet and hopefully attract more riders to the
      rail line.

      "The goal is to get as many people as possible to ride public
      mass transit, to that (end) it has to be efficient, it has to be
      convenient and it has to provide a level of service so that people
      will use it," said Jerry Hill, Caltrain board member. "This is
      another one of those tools."

      Ridership has increased 13.4 percent since the August 2005,
      "reinvention" of Caltrain which included the introduction of
      a 96-train schedule, but the train service still costs more than
      it generates. Officials hope the wireless project, which could be
      implemented within the next 12 months, will persuade more commuters
      Caltrain is the way to go.

      "We are in the technology and Internet hub of the world and we serve
      a clientele that wants to be able to connect to the rest of the
      world, to their work and to other people," said Caltrain spokesman
      Jonah Weinberg. "If they can turn commute time to office time and
      save two hours they would otherwise spend at the office, that's a
      huge benefit."

      Plans are still preliminary, but there will likely be two tiers
      of wireless service available -- a basic, free service, and an
      optimized, advertisement-free subscription service, Weinberg said.

      Funding for this project may come from state and federal grants
      earmarked for capital improvement projects.

      The request for additional funding comes after an August
      announcement that Caltrain, working with Intel Solution Services and
      Nomad Digital Ltd., successfully developed a high-speed wireless
      Internet system that allowed riders on speeding trains to surf the
      Internet.

      Pending approval Thursday, the sum will largely cover the costs of
      designing and engineering the equipment for most of the line,
      Weinberg said. Equipment was installed along 14 miles of track from
      Millbrae to Palo Alto for the test run of the technology.

      The Caltrain Joint Powers Board will discuss this funding request
      during a meeting Thursday beginning at 10 a.m. in the San Jose City
      Council Chambers, 200 East Santa Clara Street, San Jose.


      E-mail Liz Harrelson at lharrelson@...
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