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Ridership growth targeted as Wi-Fi launched on NC’s Piedmont Corridor.

Posted by Luke Upton on May 27, 2015

NCDOT_Wi-Fi"We believe by deploying new Wi-Fi services we can increase passenger satisfaction and attract new customers.”

Passengers travelling between Raleigh and Charlotte in North Carolina will now enjoy free Wi-Fi enabling them to stay connected during the 174 mile journey. Announced on the 20th anniversary of the service, it is part of the modernization programme of the Piedmont corridor through a series of projects and enhancements known as the Piedmont Improvement Program. The focus of PIP is to make train travel safer, more reliable and better connected. The addition of complimentary Wi-Fi as a standard service on Piedmont trains aims to enhance the overall quality of experience for passengers, potentially increase ridership due to the availability of Wi-Fi and provide extra layers of railway safety in the future by supporting train control and monitoring systems.

Discussing the deployment, Paul Worley, NCDOT Rail Director stated that; “Railroads are an important part of our national transportation system, and ensuring passenger safety, efficiency and connectivity on the Piedmont corridor will lead to economic opportunities for the regions of Raleigh and Charlotte and the cities, towns and communities in between. We see a growing trend in ridership on regional trains like the Piedmont, with over 300 passengers a day. We believe by deploying new Wi-Fi services we can increase passenger satisfaction and attract new customers.”

(See also: Project focus: Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) and STV. )

This Wi-Fi service provider is ViaSat Managed Wi-Fi Services of Carlsbad, California. ViaSat’s system includes complete coverage of the Piedmont corridor, optimizing Wi-Fi and internet availability to passengers. "We understand how to bring best-in-class internet access to the transportation sector," said Cody Catalena, vice president and general manager, Wireless Services, ViaSat. "Specific to Piedmont, we leveraged our experience in delivering managed Wi-Fi across multiple industries and platforms to ensure this launch in the rail industry would be a success. We have the expertise and technology required to deliver passenger Wi-Fi services on trains anywhere in the world, in order to keep passengers connected."

Editor’s Comment: Passenger Wi-Fi has now moved from an exciting addition to an expected standard for many passengers. And for the railroads passenger Wi-Fi is a useful tool in the armoury to help compete with road and air. There are already examples of it boosting ridership and the team in Piedmont will expect to see similar growth.

Paul Worley, NCDOT, Rail Director is on the judging panel of the SmartRail USA Innovation Awards and an expert speaker at SmartRail USA (Charlotte, NC, 28-29th October). The only show dedicated to driving innovation in passenger rail in the US. And, the only show of its kind that’s free!

SmartRail USA Congress and Expo 2015

+Picture courtesty of NCDOT.

Topics: IT and WiFi

Luke Upton

Written by Luke Upton

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