BART Goes Wireless

imagesIn a story that we’ve been following in the past week, it seems the survey that was sent out to BART users last week is not simply a “feeler”. When BART users received the email from the Bay Area mass transit service requesting participation in a survey, it suggested that the organization was considering some level of wireless connectivity, but as best as I could tell, it did not suggest such access was imminent.

Thomas Hawk, who I’ve previously referred to as the best photographer on the web and is also a client of mine, apparently got a chance to try an initial pilot phase out and reported some problems logging on.

the San Francisco Chronicle reports that BART has signed a 20 year deal to provide wireless internet access in it’s entire system, but the news does not disclose terms of the deal or who would actually be managing and deploying the service. The story does indicate that access would be provided via fiber as opposed to satellite or cellular.

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BART Says: We Can (or Want to) Do Wireless!

With all the talks of Government 2.0 lately, we haven’t talked about those who are embracing it in a meaningful (and useful) way. Peter Corbett and iStrategyLabs could be lauded for spearheading Apps for Democracy, a contest that brought Web innovation to the District with apps like iPark. Certainly, there are plenty of folks in the private sector chomping at the bit to do something useful for the government.

imagesBut shouldn’t we laud the governments that are actually listening to the public and trying their hardest to adjust?

Organizations like the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) who just posted a survey for Bay Area riders looking to understand the wireless needs of their customers. In other words, they are listening. It, of course, remains to be seen if they will follow through.

Wireless technologies (notably WiFi) are amazingly absent in mass transit. As far as I know, no US-based system has incorporated things like free (or even paid) wireless in their trains or buses (cannot support this with evidence, so I’m happy to be proven wrong).

Here in the District, Metrorail has wireless carrier access – if your wireless carrier is Verizon Wireless. In the Bay Area, iPhones rule the day and though I don’t live there enough to know if AT&T works underground there, I can say that giving the tech-heavy Silicon Valley access to their mobile devices will help bring along ridership. Ridership means fewer carbon emissions from fewer cars and a bonus to traffic. (We all know that Scoble is surfing the web on his iPhone while driving. Wouldn’t it be better if her used the train instead? ;)

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