Caltrain to add $1m to budget to provide onboard WiFi access
- 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
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
"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
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
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@...