Passengers travelling on bus services operating in south Hampshire will soon benefit from free Wi-Fi which is being rolled out later this month (August 2012).
Free Wi-Fi has been made possible thanks to a successful bid by Transport for South Hampshire for £4.5million of the Department for Transport’s £50million Better Bus Area Fund. Together with additional investment from bus operators in the area this bid is helping to fund a £7.3 million project to improve the quality of bus travel in south Hampshire.
Passengers with internet-enabled smartphones, iPods, iPads or laptop computers will be able to read emails, shop online, check departure and arrival times for other travel services, or catch-up with work as they travel.
Councillor Asa Thorpe, Southampton City Council's cabinet member for environment and transport, said: “As if the environmental argument for public transport wasn’t compelling enough, now passengers can use local buses as a mobile office while they travel. Given the choice of dead time stuck in traffic or a chance to catch up on banking, social networking and emails on the bus, this new service should lead to a good uptake of people wanting to travel smarter and take the bus in Southampton and across Hampshire.”
Chairman of Transport for South Hampshire, Councillor Mel Kendal, said: “Free Wi-Fi is just one of a range of initiatives we are working with bus operators on to improve bus travel in South Hampshire. We believe that improving bus travel will encourage more people to travel by bus and this, in turn, will help to stimulate the local economy.
"This investment added to other successful bids for Local Sustainable Transport Funding for this area will bring significant transport improvements for all forms of travel. Encouraging more people to leave the car at home and take advantage of other means of travel will save them money by reducing their spend on highly priced fuel and help them to enjoy a more active lifestyle.
"As more people switch to alternative means of travel, other than the private car, we should start to see positive effects with gradual reductions in traffic volumes which will allow the local economy to grow and result in more jobs being created in the area."
In addition to the provision of free Wi-Fi, plans for improving bus travel in south Hampshire include:
• the refurbishment of 137 buses;
• providing next stop audio visual systems;
• communication tags at bus stops providing up to date bus timetable information via smartphones;
• customer training for bus drivers;
• LED lighting which will significantly reduce carbon emissions.
About Transport for South Hampshire
Transport for South Hampshire was established in 2007 and brings together the local transport authorities of Hampshire County Council, the Isle of Wight Council and Portsmouth and Southampton City Councils, transport operators and government agencies.