Caltrain board approves funding for on-board
By Brigid Gaffikin, Bay City News Service
November 3, 2006
Caltrain commuters might be able to tap into the Internet on
their laptops on the way to and from work within a year with the
help of a new wireless network infrastructure, an agency spokesman
The Caltrain board of directors on Thursday approved a $1 million
allocation toward designing and engineering the system, spokesman
Jonah Weinberg said. An additional estimated $2 million to $3
million will be needed to fully implement the service.
"We've had nothing but very enthusiastic response from people
who want this service now,'' he said.
Caltrain expects the wireless access could allow commuters to
convert commute time to work time and might allow some passengers
to spend less time in the office.
The agency tested wireless service on a short stretch of track
between Millbrae and Palo Alto in July and hopes it can roll out
wireless along all 52 miles of Caltrain track by this time next
year, Weinberg said.
"Now they have to take this 14-mile proven concept and engineer
it for a 52-mile railway corridor'' before moving on to whatever
construction along the line is necessary, Weinberg said.
Engineers working on the system can't just replicate what worked
on the Palo Alto-Millbrae stretch. "There may be some geographical
challenges, there may be some physical challenges,'' Weinberg
explained. And it won't be clear exactly what needs to be done
and what needs to be purchased and installed until the design
and engineering stage is finished.
Weinberg said that ultimately the service will be available on
every car in each train but that initially Caltrain is probably
going to equip 25-30 cars for wireless so that a single car in
each train has the facility, he said.
Getting wireless set up on one car per train will be faster than
waiting for funding to have each and every one of the agency's
more than 100 passenger cars fitted to allow wireless access,
Passengers also shouldn't expect a fare increase because of the
wireless implementation, and neither will there be a fee for using
it, he said.
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