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Free Wi-Fi on Perth trains say McGowan

Date

Robyn Preston

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Free Wi-Fi on Perth's trains is the latest promise from WA Labor leader Mark McGowan if his party win the state election.

Mr McGowan announced on Sunday that 10 trains will be installed with the free internet connection in conjuction with the opposition's rail project Metronet, should Labor win the state election in March.

"Any new trains ordered would also be installed with Wi-Fi capability with the intention of improving or expanding it throughout the entire Metronet rail network," he said.

Mr McGowan hopes the access to Wi-Fi would make it more attractive for commuters to travel by train and solve the issue of having too many cars on the road during peak times.

"Free Wi-Fi is a further tool to attract commuters out of their cars and onto Perth's new transport network.

"If we want to solve the congestion crisis, we need to get people out of their cars and the incentive of being able to use free Wi-Fi is a great way to do it."

Touted as the solution to ease Perth's traffic congestion, Metronet includes a new north and south circle routes with new stations to link more Perth suburbs as well as a direct link to the airport.

Yet to be given a firm costing or timeframe, the train system is expected to be more than $1.6 billion - a ball park figure based on previous labor rail developments including the Mandurah Line, Thornlie spur line and Clarkson line extension.

Premier Colin Barnett rejected the Opposition leader's transport pledge and said on Sunday that the costing of the proposed system did not appear feasible.

"I think what people want to know is what the Liberal Party or what the Labor Party are going to commit to in this next four-year term."

"From the Liberal Party point of view we've already announced major upgrades to the Mitchell Freeway, major intersection works and we've also said that were going to build the light-rail."

 

13 comments

  • A nice idea. However, I'd like to know how much bandwidth Mr McGowan expects to deliver to commuters when a couple to hundred people are surfing the web, facebooking, making free Skype video calls, or watching streaming TV. Even email has high bandwidth requirements these days, with embedded images and people sending each other video clips and YouTube links.

    My point being this: Even if it's free, it will cause more frustration as a poor service than having no service at all.

    I don't think this "promise" has been properly thought out. Or maybe it has, as a typical politician's promise.

    Commenter
    DavidSG
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    January 14, 2013, 11:06AM
    • Great idea but since the trains are so full you barely have room for anything other than a smart phone, if that.

      Commenter
      Carmello
      Location
      Perth
      Date and time
      January 14, 2013, 11:44AM
      • Typical champagne socialists.So, how many times have McGowan and Travers actually travelled on a train during peak times? I suppose at least this would be low cost due to the fact that very few punters would actually be able to get their wifi enabled devices out and use them.
        Perhaps lowering the cost of public transport would encourage more folks to use it. It's pretty cheap as it is, but cheaper would certainly be better.

        Better luck with your next trick McGowan :)

        Commenter
        hmmmm
        Date and time
        January 14, 2013, 11:59AM
        • It isn't that cheap actually. $14 a day for me, only costs me $15 to park for work. Yes there is fuel costs but given that driving would also save me an hour a day in travel. 3 hours for public transport, if everything arrives on time that is, 2 hours for driving. I know which I'd prefer.

          It should be a lot cheaper if they want to off-set the major time costs on the current system.

          Commenter
          Ailie
          Date and time
          January 14, 2013, 1:38PM
        • "It should be a lot cheaper if they want to off-set the major time costs on the current system."

          Not on services that are already well-used it shouldn't. Farebox leakage and not much else.

          Commenter
          Troll
          Date and time
          January 14, 2013, 4:01PM
      • I've been to many other parts of the world and used their rail systems, and many do offer wi-fi, but its not a free government funded service. What they do is allow private operators to provide the service, and users can pay if they want to use it, and others don't. Providers can recoup some costs from advertising, but I found the average cost is around $5 per hour of use.

        I don't believe free wi-fi would have any effect on useage of public transport; its the convenience of the routes and service frequency which increase patronage, both of which are lacking in many parts of Perth.

        Commenter
        Commuter
        Location
        Perth
        Date and time
        January 14, 2013, 1:42PM
        • I am a big believer in free Wi-fi hotspots but I am not so sure about having them on trains for commuter runs. I laud their forward thinking but I feel they should concentrate on improving the public transport system through increased capacity and new radial lines as they suggested in their working paper. Wi-fi hotspots can come later (after the introduction of the NBN possibly?).

          Commenter
          EddyC
          Location
          Perth
          Date and time
          January 14, 2013, 2:01PM
          • A nice idea in theory, but I do foresee some issues. First and foremost, the service will need to be fast and reliable, otherwise it will just give people something else to get frustrated over. This presents quite a challenge on a moving vehicle with potentially a few hundred people on board attempting to use high-bandwidth applications at the same time. There will also be those who take advantage of the service being "free" and seize the opportunity to run massive downloads. The service would clearly need to be rationed in some manner, either by time, bandwidth, or volume. I would also point out that mobile data plans, while still on the stingy side, are nevertheless more generous than in the past. This will diminish the need for wifi for at least some passengers. Finally, the most obvious point bears repeating - the difficulty of operating a device on a packed train! Mr McGowan sees free wifi as a means of encouraging public transport use - I say to him that a necessary prerequisite of this is to increase public transport capacity. This needs to be a priority - Perth's rail system has been incredibly successful, but it now appears to be rapidly becoming a victim of this success and is not keeping up with passenger demand. Many peak services are already at or beyond saturation loading - how can it accomodate additional passengers? I think Mr McGowan would endear himself more by promising an increased number of services, particularly during peak travel times. However, having said that, it is of course appropriate that any new trains have at least a provision for wi-fi to be installed at a later time, as this will likely be significantly cheaper than retrofitting such a system.

            Commenter
            BugsyPal
            Location
            Perth
            Date and time
            January 14, 2013, 2:16PM
            • Agreed

              Commenter
              Bob!?
              Date and time
              January 14, 2013, 3:42PM
          • I don't avoid the train because there's no free wifi, I avoid the train because I don't like being slammed into a carriage like a sardine slammed into a can. People yelling at other people to "MOVE!" so they can depart, other people yelling back "WHERE?".

            Commenter
            Freddo Frog
            Date and time
            January 14, 2013, 6:42PM

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