Free Wi-Fi to encourage public transport

  • Commuters a fan of free Wi-Fi on public transport
  • Free Wi-Fi an incentive to travel more by tram, bus, ferry, or tram
  • Compare Broadband finds that 75% of 427 respondents are positive towards free Wi-Fi

Free Wi-Fi on public transport would encourage more people to travel by train, bus, ferry or tram, according to a poll.

Visitors to broadband comparison website Compare Broadband were asked, 'Would free Wi-Fi on all public transport encourage you to use public transport more often?' A total of 75% of the 427 respondents said yes, 24% said no and 1% said 'other'.

Compare Broadband spokesperson Sarah Routledge said: "There is clearly an interest in using Wi-Fi on public transport. While many people do have data plans on their mobile phones, some can only connect their laptop or iPod to a Wi-Fi network. If Wi-Fi can make the daily commute more enjoyable, people might be persuaded to make fewer trips by car."

Free Wi-Fi on public transport has been suggested by the Green Party in South Australia recently in response to falling passenger numbers, as a way of encouraging more people onto public transport.

Greens SA Parliamentary leader Mark Parnell pointed out that you "can't check emails or facebook whilst stuck in traffic, but you can do these things on public transport."

Sydney already offers limited free Wi-Fi over the Telstra network on most ferry services after a successful trial, while Queensland Rail plans to roll out free Wi-Fi to all new city network trains. By the end of 2012, the service will be available on 64 of Brisbane's newer trains.

The idea appears popular with survey respondents and the poll suggested commuters aren't too fussy about where the funding for free Wi-Fi would come from.

Only 11% said they would only support a free public transport Wi-Fi scheme if it was privately funded, with a further 16% refusing to back any scheme because there are other areas of public transport that need improving. However, 64% said they would be encouraged to use public transport if free Wi-Fi were available, regardless of the way it was funded.

Potentially, schemes could be paid for through sponsorship and advertising. Last year, ANZ offered free Wi-Fi on a tram along popular routes through Melbourne's suburbs and at Southern Cross Station.