A new type of connectivity in Metro Vancouver's public transportation system is all about improving a new kind of frequency on buses, trains and ferries.
TransLink announced this afternoon that it is launching free Wi-Fi throughout the public transit system.
This is possible thanks to a new innovative private partnership with Shaw, and is the first such deal in Canada.
This will be launched in 2020, although the first testing service will start next year. The free service will be gradually expanded throughout the public transportation network, with the goal of completing the entire system by 2025.
The launch of the free Wi-Fi will begin with SkyTrain and buses and eventually will be implemented on the West Coast Express, on community buses and on HandyDart.
A multi-year timeline is required for the launch as TransLink and Shaw have yet to discover and test specific equipment requirements for various vehicle models, including more than 2,000 buses and hundreds of wagons, to ensure quality service . For example, the hinged buses used by the high-traffic 99 B-Line are likely to need more Wi-Fi infrastructure.
Since 2016, Shaw has provided free Wi-Fi access at SeaBus terminals and SeaBus ferries, and this new contract significantly expands this partnership.
The cost of installing and operating the entire Wi-Fi infrastructure will be covered by Shaw at no cost to TransLink.
In fact, the public transportation authority could get some revenue from Shaw in return for their service.
"This will have a major impact on the customer experience," said Kevin Desmond, CEO of TransLink. "We have been working on this for several years, and we are looking for a model that brings this new convenience to our system at the lowest cost, or indeed, in this case, at no cost to the taxpayer and our passengers in transit. "
Regular passengers will no longer need to use their mobile data to access the Internet and web-based applications, as well as help improve the city's travel experience.
Ty Speer, CEO and President of Tourism Vancouver, said 43% of visitors to Vancouver will use the public transportation system during their stay.
"We have a city that is so easy to get around … but we really had a barrier with the visitor's experience, like when they (tourists) turn on their phones, they are connected just like anyone else and they want to plan their experience, do more, learn more and buy more, but they are blocked with a potential mobile charge or roaming charge from their home country. "
"And now, I think we can unlock this … it really will potentiate our visitor experience. It will add quality to our visitor experience. It will add the opportunity for all visitors to do more, and that means more companies in the hospitality industry will have more customers, more revenue and more job opportunities. "
More to come …