Free wifi to be switched on in Greater Manchester’s Metrolink trams

16 December 2014  •  Author(s): Transport for Greater Manchester

Metrolink customers will be able to make a new kind of connection in future as part of a £1.7 million deal to roll out free wifi on every tram.

Free wifi to be switched on in Greater Manchester’s Metrolink trams

Metrolink is on track to be the first light railway in England to becoming fully wifi capable.

By spring next year all 94 trams will have the technology on board, as well as the 20 buses running the free city centre Metroshuttle service linking the main rail stations, car parks, shopping areas and businesses in Manchester city centre.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) – which owns the Metrolink network and Metroshuttle’s low-carbon buses – has joined forces with Manchester and Salford City Councils and the government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) – part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport – to fund the innovative scheme.

Metrolink is on track to be the first light railway in England to becoming fully wifi capable. This helps Greater Manchester move a step closer to its ambition of being a top 20 worldwide digital city region by 2020*.

Wifi has already been trialled on Metrolink, with positive feedback from customers who used it. It is hoped the rollout will make the trams and Metroshuttle buses a more attractive journey choice, supporting TfGM’s commitment to sustainable travel.

Metrolink trams will start to be fitted out with the latest wifi kit from early January by mobile internet connectivity specialist Icomera and extra funding has been secured to ensure any new trams brought into service in the next two years will also be fitted with wifi capability.

Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM Committee said: “This is great news and will benefit the millions of people who travel on Metrolink’s trams and Metroshuttle’s buses each year.

“We live in a digital age and people want to make the best use of their travelling time – quick and simple access to digital technology is key to this.

“Greater Manchester is leading the way in the growing provision of wifi services on public transport, which in turn takes us one step close to our aim of being a top 20 digital city region by 2020.”

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Putting digital access at the heart of the city by improving connectivity is key to achieving our ambitious target of making Manchester one of the world’s leading digital cities.

“The introduction of free wifi on all Metrolink and Metroshuttle services ensures that residents and visitors to Manchester can make the most of mobile technology while they are on the go.”

Government Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey MP said: “This is fantastic news for Manchester and exactly the type of thing the government’s Superconnected Cities programme was set up to do. Having free public wifi on all of Manchester’s trams and Metroshuttle services will transform the digital landscape of Manchester, making it an ever greater place to live, visit and do business.”

Councillor Roger Jones, Assistant Mayor for Transport at Salford City Council, said: “This scheme has my full support and I am already looking at ways it can be extended to benefit more public transport users.”

Dave Palmer, Managing Director of Icomera UK, said: “Icomera is proud to be supporting this ambitious, forward-thinking project. Our technology is ideal for this digital city initiative, making public transport more user-friendly and communicative.

“TfGM recognises the important role Internet connectivity has to play in delivering the 21st century passenger experience. The adaptive nature of our solution will ensure it keeps pace with newer technologies as they become available, maintaining a state-of the-art network for TfGM’s passengers.”

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