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Portland’s Westside Express Service (WES) is the first commuter rail line in Oregon and among only a handful of suburb-to-suburb commuter lines in the country. It will be offering free Wi-Fi when it starts operations this fall.

The $117.3 million commuter rail system will begin running in October or November, connecting the Beaverton Transit Center, on the West side of Portland with five commuter rail stations along the line in Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin and Wilsonville.

Wilsonville’s SMART system will provide bus services to Salem. It also features a Direct Connection to MAX Real-Time Arrival via MyBus.

Lisa Freeman, TriMet’s Communications Specialist, explained to DailyWireless that the WiFi decision was driven by practical logistics. In order to have Transit Tracker on the commuter rail line and support the rail maintenance functions of their new diesel cars, the transit agency needed to install Internet access at each station and have WiFi access on each car.

This allowed the transit agency to download maintenance information directly from the cars to their maintenance facility in Wilsonville. “We are simply making this WiFi service available to our WES customers”, explained Freeman.

John Fall, Communications Coordinator for TriMet, says the trains will have continuous connectivity using using Sprint/Nextel for the backhaul. TriMet is in the process of finalizing equipment contracts.

Traveling at an average of 37 mph and at a top speed of 60 mph, WES is expected to make a trip from Beaverton to Wilsonville in 27 minutes. The system is designed to run every 30 minutes during morning and evening rush hours. The five commuter rail stations will have a total of 700 park-and-ride spaces.

Portland & Western Railroad will operate the commuter trains with an engineer and a conductor on board.

Among those offering WiFi on trains are Virgin Trains, Capitol Corridors Joint Power Authority (US Train Operator), VIA Rail (Canada), Swiss Rail, NSB (Norwegian Rail), GNER, SNCF, SJ, Deutsche Bahn, Danish Rail, Lloyd’s Register Rail, and NS Trains. System integrators include; Icomera, Nokia Siemens Networks, Moovera, Nomad Digital, Parsons Corporation, WiFi Rail and others.

San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit is in talks with WiFi Rail to provide system-wide wi-fi service after a successful trial program. Phase three of the demonstration program was completed recently.

Moovera Networks, a leading developer of fixed and mobile wireless communications systems, today announced that Swebus Express AB will deliver Internet connectivity on its fleet of over eighty buses that serve over two million passengers each year using its system. Swebus Express AB is the dominant long-distance express bus service in Sweden. The Moovbox family of fixed and mobile gateways bridge Wi-Fi and Ethernet with cellular wide area networks including 3G UMTS/HSPA, TD-CDMA, iBurst and WiMAX.

Additional DailyWireless articles on Transit Connectivity include; Mobilizing WiFi on Trains & Cars, Chrysler Rolls Out U-connect, Hotspot for Bedouins, TrainFi On the Move, PePWave Mobility: Connectivity for Vehicles, Belair Radios: On the Move, The Connected Bus, Kyocera KR2 Mobile Router, TrainFi: One Million Served, and Free TrainFi in UK.

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