Commuters in San Francisco will soon be able to surf the web while riding the bus. The city’s Muni bus system has partnered with Cisco Systems to launch an effort they call “the Connected Bus,” which gives passengers free wireless access while onboard. Buses will also offer touch-screen schedules and maps for tourists and other travelers.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported on the new bus:
The bus, part of Muni’s hybrid electric bus fleet, is painted green and black with a picture of Mother Earth and an electronic display panel boasting "270 tons of CO2 saved" and other "green" messages. But what really makes the bus different is inside.
A big, black steel cabinet behind the driver’s seat is stuffed with gadgetry that allows laptop-toting riders to connect to the Internet. The onboard electronics also provide the wall-mounted touch screens with information on the bus’ route and location, connecting routes and live information on arrival times. It also collects information about the bus and its operation that will help Muni maintain, schedule and run buses more efficiently.
"This is a smart bus in every way, shape and form," said Mayor Gavin Newsom. "You can download music, you can play video games. It’s a bus where you are connected. It’s constantly generating information about your connection to the rest of the Muni system."
The technology used to make the Connected Bus possible costs $10,000—a drop in the hi-tech bucket for a big city like SF. Some riders, however, wish that money were going to better use, like making transit more efficient and comfortable, or lining the pockets of bus drivers with better pay, so that they might not be so surly. Would more people take mass transit if they could check their e-mail, in the meantime?
Photo via flickr by amanky.
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