Free WiFi now being rolled out on TransLink's entire public transit system

Oct 6 2021, 3:16 pm

A comprehensive project to blanket TransLink’s public transit network with free WiFi connectivity is officially underway. The first buses, trains, and transit hubs are now equipped with WiFi for passengers.

As of this week, free WiFi is available on six RapidBus vehicles and three trains on the SkyTrain, at SkyTrain Edmonds Station, and the Carvolth bus exchange.

This initiates the gradual, years-long process of installing free WiFi systemwide in partnership with Shaw Communications. TransLink’s agreement stipulates Shaw will be responsible for all of the costs of installing and operating the WiFi infrastructure.

By 2026, the public transit authority anticipates all buses, SkyTrain cars, SkyTrain stations, and other major transit hubs having free WiFi. TransLink and Shaw will first prioritize equipping WiFi on the SkyTrain, RapidBus vehicles, and other 60-ft articulated buses, which all serve the most passengers.

Fixed infrastructure, such as stations and bus exchanges, will be an easier and quicker installation than the time-intensive work for the rolling stock. TransLink currently has a fleet of approximately 1,500 buses and about 300 SkyTrain cars across all three lines, and these numbers will grow this decade.

“We know that free WiFi is something our customers want, and I’m so excited to start delivering this important feature to elevate the customer experience,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn in a statement.

“Free WiFi means that our customers can use their transit time for leisure, work, or better connecting with family and friends without spending their money on data fees.”

Vehicles and transit hubs with this amenity will have posters and signage on display to make passengers aware of the availability of free WiFi and provide instructions on how to connect.

To access the service, passengers simply have to find the network name “TransLinkWiFi” on their mobile device, then accept the “Terms & Conditions,” and click “Connect,” which will automatically lead to TransLink’s landing page.

translink wifi shaw

TransLink Shaw Free WiFi Landing Page. (TransLink)

Free WiFi has been available on all SeaBus vessels and terminals since 2016 when TransLink engaged with Shaw on their first WiFi partnership.

The expanded systemwide program was first jointly announced by TransLink and Shaw in late 2018. The plan was to begin the rollout in 2020 on a testing basis, with a goal of completion in 2025. But this now appears to be starting a year late due to the pandemic.

Under the expanded systemwide agreement, TransLink could potentially receive some revenue from Shaw, but the public transit authority has indicated revenue generation is not the primary objective of this major amenity for passengers.

“We are proud to partner with TransLink so its customers can stay connected when they are on buses, trains or in transit stations across the Lower Mainland,” said Katherine Emberly, president of business for Shaw Communications.

“Today’s announcement represents another milestone in our collective commitment to providing commuters with fast, seamless WiFi connectivity that they can enjoy for free across TransLink’s system.”

In recent years, TransLink has placed a far greater focus on improving customer service ā€” “creature comfort” amenities such as real-time next train digital signs on all SkyTrain platforms and the introduction of double-decker buses.

translink shaw free wifi

Press conference in 2018 for TransLink’s free Shaw WiFi announcement. (TransLink)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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