Wi-Fi now available on Amtrak's Hiawatha train, other Midwest routes
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI), 2014-02-10
Feb. 10--Free Wi-Fi is now available on Amtrak's Hiawatha trains and seven other Midwestern routes, state Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb announced Monday.
Amtrak has installed wireless Internet on Midwestern trains for the first time in the states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Missouri. The service will reach more than 3 million passengers a year, according to Amtrak.
"The Internet is really just something that we need to do our normal daily business," Gottlieb said. "Business travelers and other professionals rely on having that access and being able to spend that 90-minute trip productively by having access to the Internet."
Matt Hardison, Amtrak's chief marketing and sales officer, said free Wi-Fi has driven increases in ridership and loyalty on other routes, and he expects the Hiawatha will be no different.
"We're committed to delivering a modern, convenient, comfortable service," Hardison said. "Customers have consistently been ecstatic when we've offered Wi-Fi service in our trains."
Most U.S. passengers on Amtrak trains -- around 75% -- already have access to wireless Internet, particularly in the Northeast, Pacific Northwest and California.
The cellular-based technology combines networks from multiple cellphone carriers, and supports only general web browsing. It doesn't support live streaming or large downloads, according to Amtrak's website.
Capital costs for the Wi-Fi service for Wisconsin were about $300,000. Total operational costs, which include technical support, are about $86,000 a year. Wisconsin shares costs with Illinois, with Wisconsin picking up three-fourths of the bills.
The Hiawatha, which runs between Milwaukee and Chicago, is the busiest corridor in the Midwest with more than 800,000 riders a year. The route has the sixth highest ridership nationally.
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