Haligonians may soon be able to access WiFi on the municipality’s transit buses as well as most of the major terminals in its transportation network.
A staff report headed to the Halifax Transportation Standing Committee on Monday, recommends the creation of a pilot program that would install mobile WiFi hotspots on as many as 20 Halifax Transit buses.
The pilot program would last 12 months and be in partnership with Halifax Libraries, costing the city $12,000 in installation fees as well as $2,400 in monthly data costs.
READ MORE: The Halifax waterfront now has free public WiFi
Staff say the pilot project would allow them to gather additional information and be in a better position to confirm or refute the estimated costs of installing WiFi on the Halifax Transit fleet.
Installing WiFi hotspots on the entire fleet of 340 buses and five ferries would be prohibitively expensive, the report concludes, with the cost of new hotspots alone coming to approximately $345,000.
That would be in addition to the cost of mobile data, which staff estimate to be between $124,200 and $207,000 per year.
Staff say the installation would also require the use of external consultants, costing between $100,000 and $200,000, to help deliver the project. An additional staff member to manage hardware maintenance would also need to be hired, with an estimated annual cost of $140,000.
WiFi on Halifax Transit buses? Councillor wants staff to explore it
Just to get the project off the ground, the municipality would be looking at an investment between $709,200 and $892,000.
Instead, staff says it would be more cost effective to expand the city’s existing public WiFi access by providing it at key hubs within the Halifax Transit network, including the Alderney Ferry Terminal, Halifax Ferry Terminal, Lacewood Bus Terminal, and Dartmouth Bridge Bus Terminal.
“By expanding the service to the key Transit hubs, the Municipality would be able to increase transit user Wi-Fi access and align its services with those seen across other transit agencies in Canada in a cost-effective manner,” the report reads.
WATCH: Report finds Halifax Transit buses receive scheduled maintenance thousands of kilometres after due date
Installing the hotspots at the four major terminals is estimated by staff to cost between $40,000 to $52,000 in installation and setup, with a monthly data cost between $2,000 and $3,400.
If the recommendation passes through the standing committee, it would still need to be approved by Halifax Regional Council.
The recommendation originated from a motion early last year that asked staff to look at the feasibility of providing WiFi on public transit. It comes after Halifax Regional Council approved a project to provide free public WiFi at Grand Parade Square and in some areas of the waterfront.