All Kansas City buses will be equipped with Wi-Fi next year when the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority expands the amenity to more than 200 buses.
Currently, 55 buses in the KCATA’s 263-vehicle fleet are fitted with Wi-Fi allowing riders to surf the Internet, check office email, update their Facebook status or Tweet without relying on their own data packages.
The KCATA started offering Wi-Fi services in early 2014, but it was only available on the MAX routes operating on Main Street and Troost Avenue, plus 22 other Metro buses.
The expansion of Wi-Fi is yet another reason for choosing to ride the bus whether someone is going to work, to school or to the store.
“We believe that an expanded offering of Wi-Fi services will make public transit even more attractive,” said Joe Reardon, the KCATA’s president and chief executive officer.
“Our riders can now more readily turn to the Internet at any time during their commute, a distinct advantage over driving since multi-tasking presents a clear hazard on the road.”
Adding Wi-Fi to the entire bus fleet should prove to be popular with the tech savvy millennial generation that places premium on being connected.
A 2013 survey done by the American Public Transportation Association revealed that 54 percent of millennials -- ages 18 to 34 -- want their transportation options to include Wi-Fi everywhere they go within 10 years.
Forty-five percent of those surveyed said they wanted transportation options that are more connected and tech friendly within 10 years.
The poll of 1,000 people in six cities also found that 44 percent of millennials use public transportation so they can socialize online.
The study concluded that fully leveraging technology, including Wi-Fi, allows transit riders to be more spontaneous and helps undercut one key competitive advantage of the car.
“Our new Wi-Fi offerings will be a great new reason to turn to public transportation for your daily commute,” Reardon said.
Later this year, the KCATA will seek competitive proposals for the Wi-Fi service with a goal of getting it up and running in 2016.