Fairfield County Rep. Wants Wi-Fi On Metro-North Trains

  • Comments (8)
Metro-North trains may be outfitted with wi-fi access, allowing passengers to browse the Internet from their laptops and tablets. Photo Credit: File: Vanessa Inzitari

WESTPORT, Conn. – Metro-North commuters may be able to browse the Internet from their laptops, tablets and other devices using wi-fi as they travel to and from their destinations if state Rep. Gail Lavielle gets her way.

Lavielle, R-143rd District — which includes parts of Westport, Wilton and Norwalk — proposed a bill that would require Metro-North to provide wi-fi access to passengers. The proposed legislation would also allow a private contractor to provide the service.

“Our hardworking commuters travel for hours every day on Metro-North, and they want to spend their time productively," Lavielle said in a statement. “Commuters have seen a steep spike in their fares, and they have a right to expect service improvements.”

Several years ago, the railroad sought bids from Internet service providers, Lavielle said, but the process of outfitting the trains with wi-fi has been “moving very slowly.”

“Many have written to me about the need for wi-fi, and I hope that it will be possible to speed up the process,” she said. “There should be no roadblocks related to funding, because as I understand it, an arrangement with a private contractor could allow Metro-North to provide wireless service at no cost to taxpayers."

The wi-fi proposal is one of several transportation-related bills Lavielle has introduced to improve the rail experience for commuters and other passengers. One bill would extend weekly or monthly tickets after any rail service outage of 48 hours or more.

She also introduced a bill that would protect commuters from rail fare increases during prolonged periods of stagnation in personal income. Another would allow permanently disabled people to get parking permits that would not have to be renewed. 

Lavielle has also introduced bills that would improve service on the Danbury branch of the New Haven Line, which extends from Norwalk to Danbury, and passes through Wilton, Ridgefield, Redding and Bethel.

“Fairfield County is a key economic engine for the state, with the New Haven rail line and its branches providing more than 39 million passenger rides each year,” she said. “Continuing to upgrade the branch lines will not only lead to more frequent and faster service for commuters, but will also  enhance property values, reduce traffic congestion and take pressure off parking facilities at main line stations like South Norwalk and Westport.”

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Comments (8)

Joe Espo:

Sounds like another waste of money disaster, like the pay phones that were installed years ago that no one ever used. What network infrastructure will it connect to? Verizon? ATT? Sprint? T-Mobile? Those are cell towers which are accessible by anyone who has a smartphone. You don't need WiFi if you have a smartphone. Few iPad users have WiFi-only models but have their own data plan. And more and more phones these days can act as their own WiFi hotspots or can be tethered to laptops. The equipment will never overcome data disconnects and drop-outs that plague any wifi device moving at 60 miles an hour. By the time the equipment gets installed it will be obsolete. Let's worry about having the trains run on time ar spending the money re-electrifying the Danbury line. Better yet, stop the madness with that bus expressway to nowhere for nobody and dump the cash into the Danbury branch.

Latino:

WI-FI? Why not worry about the trains to be on time, fix the tracks, and trains that do not break down. I love that internet is more important to the person that does not use Metro North into Manhattan. WAKE UP!

lwitherspoon:

It's clear that part of what's driving this effort is a desire to make good press. At the same time, MNRR is a monopoly and improvements seem to come slowly if at all. As long as adding WiFi doesn't cost taxpayers, we should applaud Rep. Lavielle's efforts.

RG of Mayo:

I commute on MetroNorth. I could care less about getting WiFi on the trains. I am much more concerned about getting the trains to run on time . . .and the MTA considers 6 minutes late to be on time . . . for the heat and AC to work, for the automated station anouncements and signage on the new cars to work, for the conductors to enforce the no-feet-on-the-seat rule, and most especially for THE CONDUCTORS TO ACTUALLY CHECK TICKETS AND COLLECT FARES.

This a typical case of a politician seeking to mandate that somebody else provide something and not provide a red cent to pay for it. Well, of course it will be the commuters and taxpayers who will have to foot the bill for Rep. Lavielle's oh so thoughtful "gift."

mike_c:

If people Need WiFi, there are many solutions out there that will let you get it for $40 a month or so, and on any given rush hour train, you can see dozens of people using them. The legislature should stay out of it, there's no way that "mandating" something is not going to translate into higher costs for those riding the trains. This bill is pretty much exactly what Metro North put out in their 2010 RFP (available here - http://www.mta.info/mta/realestate/PDF/Wireless_Broadband/WirelessBroadband_RFP_2010.pdf ), so I really don't see how it's any different, though it is good for the press. Passing the bill or not passing the bill is not going to change how long an undertaking like this takes. Look to the airlines and Amtrak, they are still struggling to make Wifi work in their planes and trains.

Ken P Jr:

Everyone wants something. Metro north is already a net LOSS for the taxpayers. If WIFI raises funds so the train makes us money or is at least self funding I'd be ok with it. But right now, given the fact that the state is already broke precisely because it gives too many people something for nothing I think its ridiculous.

arfmmf:

I (and many others) would love to have Wi-Fi on the train. Cell service is decent in spots, but still too many interruptions to do any real work....I know folks that take buses from NJ and they have it...feel like we are "less than" up here in CT.

What can I do to support this??

Broad River:

@artmmf;
I hope this comes to fruition for you. It could easily add an hour of productivity to your day, giving you more time with your family when you finally arrive home. 80,000 passengers a day, with something better to do than read yesterday's news or gaze out the windows is brilliant. The 100's of new cars should already be outfitted with wi-fi. Give state Rep. Gail Lavielle the encouragement to move on with the Bill.

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