Main line and Express buses outfitted with wireless internet ...
CHARLESTON – Transit riders in the Lowcountry can now connect to the information superhighway while traveling on an actual highway, as the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) and Verizon Wireless today announced free WiFi service on the system’s main line and Express buses.
“Our passengers now have a clear advantage over automobile drivers when it comes to technology and connectivity,” said CARTA board chairman Mike Seekings. “It’s a first for our system. It’s a first for our region. And we envision this service as being the sort of tool that will delight our current customers and also get people on the bus for the first time. That change, in turn, decreases traffic and reduces wear on infrastructure, which benefits everyone.”
Unlimited WiFi is now available on CARTA’s commuter-heavy Express Routes 1, 2, 3 and 4, while twelve-user MiFi is being offered on local routes.
CARTA provides more than 15,000 trips each weekday, 60 percent of which are commuter rides. In 2014, the system posted record ridership, surpassing the 5 million mark for the first time.
“Thousands of workers, students and residents spend time on our buses each day. Why not make that time productive – even fun?” Seekings said. “Whether they’re staying connected with family, updating social media, checking email or catching up on the latest news, our riders now have access to a desirable service that will improve their time on the road.”
The partnership between CARTA and Verizon is set for an initial run of two years. The deal, in essence, will see the wireless carrier provide service in exchange for a fully branded bus wrap.
“Verizon is proud to partner with CARTA to bring high-speed 4G LTE mobile Internet to Charleston’s commuters,” said Krista Bourne, president Verizon Wireless, Carolinas/Tennessee Region. “Transit riders will appreciate the reliability and security of our network as they seamlessly use their smartphones, tablets and laptops en route to their destinations.”
CARTA executive director Ron Mitchum pointed to the collaboration between the transit system and Verizon as the type of teamwork that will propel public transportation in the Lowcountry.
“This public-private partnership is a model for the type of collaboration it’s going to take to ensure the success of public transit in the Charleston area,” Mitchum said. “We know that success is critical in keeping our region moving forward.”
CARTA has been piloting the program over the past month and logging on is simple:
- Locate the CARTA WiFi network, which is the bus number
- Agree to Terms of Service
- Start cruising on WiFi
Smaller neighborhood shuttles and DASH trolleys are not outfitted with wireless capabilities at this time, though CARTA officials are open to the possibility of expanding service in the future.