|Thursday, August 29, 2013
|LANSING – Rail passengers in Michigan will be the first in the Midwest to have access to a new cellular-connect WiFi service on Amtrak trains beginning in early 2014.The service is part of a contract approved by the Transportation Commission, and which will invest $1 million in the trains. An expected increase in ridership should help offset the cost through increased ticket revenues, officials said.Ridership on Michigan’s Amtrak trains, which connect a number of cities with Chicago, has been on the upswing in recent years, in part because of increasing fuel prices. A record 793,000 passengers traveled on Amtrak trains in Michigan in 2012.WiFi availability is a growing service on other travel systems, such as airlines.
The service will be through the Amtrak Connect, which could provide service to up to 50 percent of the passengers on a train. Already some 75 percent of Amtrak passengers can get service through the Enjoy the Ride service.
There will be some restrictions to ensure accessibility is not affected for other passengers. Video streaming, music downloads and other files larger than 10 megabytes will be prohibited, officials said.