By Rachel Dovey.
Following the lead of agencies in New York, Chicago and Miami, Los Angeles Metro will soon be offering WiFi on many of its buses. Metro is currently working on rolling out cell service on the subway, and last week, it announced a pilot program in which 150 WiFi-equipped buses will be brought into service over the next few weeks, Curbed Los Angeles reports.
If the pilot goes as planned, an additional 150 buses will be equipped with WiFi later this year. Eventually, the entire 2,200 vehicle fleet will offer internet access, though that could take several years. The buses offering wireless service will be marked by a green decal reading “Free Metro WiFi” and distributed throughout the system at random.
Metro has been working to overhaul its bus system this year in the wake of a sobering drop in ridership between 2009 and 2016. Annual ridership dipped 18 percent from 2009 to 2016, as Next City’s Josh Cohen wrote earlier this month, and the system saw 14 percent fewer riders in April 2017 than in April 2016. It’s certainly not alone (bus ridership has been falling in most U.S. cities over the last few years), but the agency is preparing to take a hard look at those numbers. It’s “launching a two- to three-year system study that will culminate in a massive overhaul of bus routes and service levels,” Cohen wrote, adding that it’s also “participating in a joint study with 16 other transit agencies in L.A. County to try to improve intersystem connectivity.”
“It’s been 25 years since we’ve taken a real hard look and restructured our bus system,” Rick Jager, Metro spokesman, told Cohen. “We’re going to take a look at the entire system in terms of the service level, where we’re providing it, what we’re providing, how travel patterns might’ve changed over the years.”