Buses that offer Wi-Fi Internet access, television screens, air conditioning and an option to pay fares electronically could attract more people to use transit, even through tough economic times, says the city.

Nathan Walters, a strategic marketing supervisor for Edmonton Transit Services, says the bus idea is perfect since the service is in a “unique position in this economic period.”

“A lot of people that are being more financially conscious, they are thinking, ‘Well, it’s harder to find parking, it’s expensive,’” said Walters onboard the city’s prototype bus, complete with all the bells and whistles, called ETS Platinum.

“With this, you’re increasing the quality of (the rider’s) experience while they are being financially wise.”
The bus is part of a city project to help transit officials to get an idea of what riders want in their services through an online survey.

Along with Wi-Fi, luggage racks and tinted windows, two monitors aboard the high-tech bus also provides GPS information to riders, along with news from local TV stations. Transit riders can also pay their fares through a fare box that’s equipped with a Smartcard technology. Walters says the bus was corporate-sponsored, but wouldn’t disclose how much the bus is worth.

“Most bus passengers are only interested in getting from point A to point B — I don’t think they ride the bus to surf the Internet,” said Scott Hennig with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“The city needs to think about making transit more accessible to more people.”

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