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Getting online, on the train

<p>PHILADELPHIA. On the heels of several digital improvements, SEPTAplans to pilot wireless Internet for passengers in 2010, the agency'snew information technology director said this week.</p>

PHILADELPHIA. On the heels of several digital improvements, SEPTA plans to pilot wireless Internet for passengers in 2010, the agency's new information technology director said this week.

The agency has not said which modes would offer the service, how passengers would connect or whether there would be a fee, but they are talking with vendors now about the project, which would make SEPTA perhaps the largest transit agency to offer Internet access.

"We’re talking to local vendors that provide wi-max based services. One of the things we need to make sure is it a [complete] project and it works 100 percent," said senior director of IT Bill Zebrowski. "The last thing we want is customers going up to the conductor saying, 'Why isn’t my Wi-Fi working?'"

More than two dozen transit agencies now offer wireless service on buses or trains, and while connection can be shaky, most say the feedback has been good.

"We have had our share of problems, not a lot," said Utah Transit Authority spokesman Gerry Carpenter, which has been offering free Wi-Fi on express buses since 2007. "On the buses, it's actually been very reliable."

Matt Mitchell, of the Delaware Valley Association of Rail Passenger, said it would be a welcome amenity.

"We’re looking forward to the test," he said.



 
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