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Soon it’ll be easier to ignore each other on public transit

City council approves bus-wifi pilot project

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Council's work to get more wifi in more places gets a nudge after approving a public transit wifi pilot project, and looking into rejigging the locations of some public wifi locations.

The approved pilot project will outfit 20 buses with wifi for 12 months and report back with a plan for wifi hotspots at three transit terminals. Most councillors supported the plan, on the basis of it being a pilot project, which will cost $40,000 to set up and run.

Councillor Waye Mason voted against the project. Having just arrived back from vacation in Paris where the metro stations were outdated and certainly had no wifi, but they were packed. "It's not all the fancy stuff," says Mason, "what matters is buses coming every six minutes at rush hour on what for us would be the corridor routes."

Marc Santilli, manager of technical services for Halifax transit says to locate the hotspots on specific routes at specific times would be "extremely difficult" and also says that were council to move forward with the project after the pilot, the resources needed to implement the project would necessitate a reorganization of Halifax Transit's current tech upgrades.

The transit wifi pilot comes alongside attempts to improve public wifi coverage. The original public wifi plan implemented in 2017 made public wifi available at Grand Parade and Dartmouth and Halifax waterfronts as well as Alderney Gate, Halifax Central and Halifax North Memorial Public Libraries.

The public wifi hotspots at the libraries were never used, so council moved this week to redistribute them to The Oval and part of the Halifax Public Gardens. The Alderney and Halifax ferry terminals and the Lacewood and Bridge terminals will also get hotspots as the program expands. Councillors insisted upon the need for these hotspots in transit terminals, requesting a supplemental staff report regarding the redeployment of resources, highlighting transit terminals.

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