Dublin Bus passengers to get free internet access
DUBLIN commuters will be among the first in Europe to enjoy free internet access on city bus services.
Dublin Bus plans to install Wi-fi technology on its fleet of 900 buses before the end of the year, allowing passengers to surf the internet, tweet and send emails while on the move.
Wi-fi is internet access provided through a wireless system, meaning that people with laptops or smartphones can connect to the internet without plugging into a wall socket.
The service is commonly found in airports, coffee shops and hotels. Yesterday it emerged that Dublin Bus will begin a two-month trial of the technology from next week on 10 Route 16 buses serving Santry and Ballinteer, and if the trials are successful it is planned to extend the service across the entire fleet.
Other public transport operators including Iarnrod Eireann and Bus Eireann have already started rolling out the technology. Many private coach firms also offer the service and the National Transport Authority hopes to install Wi-fi on Luas trams later this year.
Iarnrod Eireann has free Wi-fi on most trains between Dublin and Cork and the service will be available on 234 inter-city rail carriages as well as the DART and commuter fleet in Dublin by the end of the year. More than 40 buses in the Bus Eireann fleet have free Wi-fi.
"All 88 of the new fleet that will start to go into service in the coming weeks also have Wi-fi, and vehicles will be used on city, commuter and inter-city services across the country," a spokesman said. "We will be rolling-out Wi-fi across our inter-city services in 2012. "
The Dublin Bus contract is the biggest tendered to date but the costs are not yet known.
Documents published yesterday sought companies to provide Wi-fi for up to 900 buses, but warned: "This project is funding dependent and there is no guarantee that it will proceed."
A spokeswoman said the company hoped to install the technology but it was dependent on funding.
Although coach services in other European cities provide free Wi-fi, Madrid is the only other city in Europe which currently provides the service free on city buses, she added.
The National Transport Authority said funding would depend on the prices that would emerge through the tender process.