Caltrain steams ahead with onboard wireless

Transportation agency earmarks $1M for high-speed mobile Internet system

SAN JOSE — Driving to be the first commuter train agency in the nation to deliver wireless high-speed Internet to riders, Caltrain on Thursday approved $1 million for the first phase of the plan.

Intended to start service in 12 to 18 months, wireless access is expected to cost the train agency $3 million to $4 million initially, but add to the growth it has already seen in ridership.

Internet access would be a welcomed service for riders like Ben Dziuba, a Web designer, who said logging on during his 45 to 50 minute commute from San Francisco to Cupertino would save him time in the morning and allow him to check industry news before arriving at the office.

Thursday’s unanimous vote by Caltrain board members, who held their once annual meeting in San Jose, earmarked the $1 million to be spent on wireless services, but no contract has been approved yet, officials said.

“The who, how and what are still unanswered,” said Caltrain board member and Board of Supervisors President Jerry Hill. By that he meant that major questions remain such as who will run the services. whether it will be free, fee based or a combination and what exactly the service will include, Hill said.

“We’re going forward with the plan and project and the $1 million is the first step in trying to narrow down some of those answers,” Hill said.

While other train agencies in the country are also working to provide wireless Internet, Caltrain hopes to be among the first, given its strong connection to Silicon Valley.

“Given the nature of the people who live and work in the area, and given the tech savviness of our riders, this better work right because they’re not going to have a lot of patience if it isn’t a genuine service to them,” said Mark Simon, special assistant to Caltrain CEO Mike Scanlon.

Caltrain plans to launch its wireless service on one to two cars on each train, with the focus on Baby Bullet services to begin with, officials said.

ecarpenter@examiner.comBay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Indoor dining at John’s Grill. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
State’s mask mandate to continue until June 15 reopening despite CDC guidance

By Eli Walsh Bay City News Foundation California will wait until next… Continue reading

A Caltrans worker uses heavy equipment to take down an empty tent as homeless residents of a parking lot underneath Interstate 80 are forced to relocate on Monday, May 17, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Encampment that included longtime parking lot renters removed by Caltrans

Some 50 people living in a parking lot under a San Francisco… Continue reading

A cyclist heads past an artistic sign onto Page Street, a Slow Street, at Stanyan Street near Golden Gate Park on Monday, April 12, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Push to make street closures permanent meets with resistance

Hastily thrown together during the pandemic, Slow Streets program now struggles to build support

Agnes Liang, who will be a senior at Mission High School, is running for one of the two student representative seats on the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Turbulent year on school board leaves student delegates undeterred

Around this time last year, Shavonne Hines-Foster and Kathya Correa Almanza were… Continue reading

(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Three people killed in SF shootings in less than 24 hours

San Francisco police were scrambling Saturday to respond to a series of… Continue reading

Most Read