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Wi-Fi on Halifax Transit buses? Councillor wants staff to explore it

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WATCH: A Halifax councillor has made a motion for a committee to consider asking staff to explore putting Wi-Fi on buses. But as Steve Silva reports, some people think those resources could be used elsewhere – Feb 20, 2018

A Halifax councillor wants municipal staff to explore the feasibility of adding Wi-Fi to Halifax Transit buses.

“My reasoning was always to help increase ridership, [improve] the ridership experience,” District Four Coun. Lorelei Nicoll said on Tuesday outside of Halifax City Hall.

“People are working much more than nine-to-five, and responding to emails, if they can do that on their way to work by riding on the bus, you’re getting a much more productive employee.”

The Transportation Standing Committee is scheduled to consider her motion for a staff report on the idea on Thursday.

Among other cities, Charlottetown’s T3 Transit offers public Wi-Fi on its buses.

Nicoll said she’s been advocating to get Wi-Fi on public transit buses for eight years.

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“Wi-Fi on the bus is a very nice thing, we can see it’s helpful,” Ben Wedge, the executive director of advocacy group It’s More Than Buses, said.

Municipal staff’s time would be better spent on other transit matters, though, he said.

“Frequency, reliability, just the overall time that the trip takes, how straight it is, those are the top three priorities,” Wedge said.

The organization would see Wi-Fi as a more important addition if the municipality didn’t have to pay for it, including the cost of staff to put the report together, he said.

“There are people within Halifax Transit that … are exploring opportunities with the fare box technology and everything else, and we’ve seen different types of technology made available to provide Wi-Fi so, therefore, while we’re having that conversation, why would we exclude Wi-Fi?” Nicoll said.

If the motion is approved, the report would be sent to members of the committee, then they would decide if the matter should be considered by Halifax Regional Council.

Nicoll said she could ask for Halifax Transit’s ferries to be included in the request.

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