TRANSIT has been following the implementation of WiFi service on Penang buses and took note of the article below:
Thursday May 14, 2009
Now surf and ride with Rapid Penang
By ANDREA FILMER
GEORGE TOWN: Rapid Penang is believed to be the first bus company in the country to roll out a high-speed WiFi service which will be useful to passengers, especially during a traffic congestion.
It sounds like a nice idea in theory – a new technology that is relatively cheap and will add an amenity that might get some people to use public transport.
Some cities have trains and buses with laptop power points, and even tables. Other cities have quiet cars or coffee cars for their trains. Google Transit has quiet buses and working buses for their employees.
But, while we understand that changing perceptions about public transport is important – the question must be asked – where did those perceptions come from?
“The service is not password protected. Now, our passengers can surf the Net, check e-mail, Facebook or watch videos on YouTube with their laptops or handphones while on board.
“A lot of people think that public transport is only for the lower income group, but we’re offering services that private car owners don’t have – hands-free and Internet access at 3.5G speeds to entertain you in traffic jams,” he said while taking press members on a bus ride around town to try out the new service.
No one says that “buses are for the lower-income group” just for the fun of it. What they do say is based on what they see – that buses are unreliable, slow, uncomfortable, not so safe, convenient or enjoyable.
In other words, people are saying that their time and comfort is valuable and they are going to use their income to pay for more comfort and to save time. That could mean “I’ll pay more for better public transport” and that is why the market for luxury express coaches (Aeroline, Odyssey, AeroBus, TransStar Express etc) is growing so fast. But in general, because the state of public transport is so poor, what it really means is that people will buy a car.
So, we have to ask: Does putting WiFi on a bus make it more comfortable? Will it make the trip shorter or more convenient?
The answer is no … and so this will remain as a nice, feel-good exercise that will benefit few and hopefully cost very little.
Finally, TRANSIT would like to point out – the service is NOT password protected – hence your personal data and information IS AT RISK just as it would be in any wireless system.