You can now surf the web for free while travelling to work, school or college, following the installation of WiFi on 421 buses across the region.
Bus users will be able to enjoy the power of the internet while on the move – without incurring data charges.
It means customers with Smartphones, or other devices like tablet computers, can take advantage of free connections while travelling, using the time on buses to look up information, online shop, check out social media pages, or simply pass the time browsing the best the internet has to offer.
The installation of free WiFi was made possible by successful partnership working between First and the four West of England councils which in turn helped to secure Department of Transport’s Better Bus Areas funding for the region.
To ensure that more of its buses were installed though, First also topped up the funding itself.
As a result, all First buses in Bristol and the vast majority of First vehicles operating to and from Bristol Bus Station are now fully fitted with free WiFi.
Around 40 vehicles in Bath – in addition to those operating on the university services and the park and ride – have also been fitted, while 20 buses in Weston-super-Mare have also had the necessary kit installed on them.
Talking about the installation of free WiFi, Paul Matthews, Managing Director First West of England, said: “The opportunity to access free WiFi while travelling is something that our customers benefit greatly from.
“We know it is well used, and customers have contacted us on numerous occasions to express their surprise and delight that they can access it so easily.
“Our records tell us that since we began fitting the WiFi units last summer, 81,744 people have logged onto the system using it more than 600,000 times. When asked on Twitter how and why they’ve used it, customers have replied telling us they use it to check email and Twitter, or to stream music.
“One customer told us they routinely used it to send data to their head office while commuting to and from work.
“The point is, the addition of free WiFi adds a new dimension to bus travel. The ability to surf the web, keep up to date with social media or even process your emails while you’re on the move adds to the ever growing list of things you can do to make the most of your travelling time.”
Cllr Brian Allinson, Chair of the West of England Joint Transport Board, added: “The West of England councils are pleased to be able to develop our partnership with First and the other operators to help give passengers a better travelling experience.
“WiFi on the buses makes it possible for people to access their email and keep in touch with business contacts or friends while travelling. It makes so much sense, and helps make bus travel more attractive to more people, which keep our roads moving.”
Mark Bradshaw, Bristol’s Assistant Mayor for Transport said: “This is great news for bus travellers and is just the latest step in the continuing improvement of Bristol’s bus services.
“With our partners in neighbouring authorities and the bus operators, we are constantly working to enhance bus services so they are an attractive option for commuting, day trips and nights out.”
Councillor Caroline Roberts, Cabinet Member for Transport at the Council concluded: “Improving the ability for passengers to communicate and access information on the move is something that Bath & North East Somerset Council welcomes as we work with First to increase the number of people taking the bus.
“The WiFi service on our three Park & Ride services is already extremely well received as visitors can immediately discover what sights to see in Bath and commuters can start work a few minutes early by accessing their emails. It is good news that many more First buses now have the same facility.”