Greens Call For Train Wi-Fi


The Green Party has called on Auckland Transport and Greater Wellington Regional Council to investigate providing free WiFi internet on trains and at stations in Auckland and Wellington.

Green Party transport and IT spokesperson Gareth Hughes said providing train users with a WiFi service was a no-brainer - something AKT has long argued here. As a heavy iPad user, I’d love the journey even more if free reliable Wi Fi was available.

As I argued again recently when a free Wi Fi bus was sponsored by ASB, it is common place overseas.

Gareth Hughes says: “We’ve estimated the cost to be well under $1 million a year for both regions, which is quite small in the context of transport projects.

“It would make it even more attractive and practical to take the train if people are able to communicate and work while waiting at the station or on the train itself. There could be huge productivity benefits for the region.

“The idea is very popular with commuters. We conducted surveys of 100 people each at Britomart and Wellington stations. More than three quarters of the Wellingtonians and over 90 percent of Aucklanders surveyed were highly supportive of the idea.

“Over half of the commuters in each city said they would be even more likely to take the train if such a service was provided,” said Mr Hughes.

Wellington Regional Councillor Paul Bruce said it was time to move public transport up a few grades to make it the premier transport mode of convenience.

“WiFi, real time information and integrated ticketing could give real comfort to those transferring over, and any savings on deferred costs of new motorways planned by the National Government would pay for these public transport improvements many times over.”

Let’s hope someone is listening.




  1. Brent C says:

    It would be nice to have phone reception in the Tawa tunnels! I suppose this would come with Wi Fi?

  2. Miggle says:

    If there’s $1 million a year spare can we spend it on making services more reliable before wasting it on wifi? Most people switching to the train because of wifi will switch right back if they experience current punctuality levels.

  3. greenwelly says:

    @miggle +1 Yes, Wifi on the trains would be great, but at the moment, particularly in Wellington, getting them to run reliably on time is a much bigger issue.

    A flick through this mornings delays has a set of common themes,

    “The 0600 btwn Wknae & Wgtn is running up to 20 min lte due 2 Mechanical fault.”
    “The 06:00 from Waikanae is cancelled due to mechanical fault. The 06:28 will run as 8 cars from Waikanae”
    “The 07:20 and 08:12 from Johnsonville are running but with reduced seating..”

    Yssterday was
    “The 21:39 btwn Porirua & Wgtn is being replaced by buses due 2 Mechanical fault”
    “Svces being replaced by buses on the JVL lne btwn Wgtn & Jville due 2 Points Fault”

    PT users will head back to cars if their train is constantly late, giving them a late train with Wifi is still going to likely see them head back to their cars…

  4. Matt says:

    Brent, no, phone reception is a completely different beast. The WiFi would probably not be operated via cellular data, because of the costs.

    Getting reception (any radio reception, but particularly the higher frequencies associated with cellular and beyond - including WiFi) in tunnels is hard. It usually requires a cell site specifically for the tunnel, and if the tunnel is sufficiently long it’ll need a cell site in the tunnel, not just at an entrance, which then requires laying some kind of terrestrial data circuit to connect the site back to the main network. It’s pretty expensive to do.

    I’m not totally sure what tech would be used to get on-train WiFi back to the wider internet, but I would pick some sort of WISP-style service rather than cellular data. I could be wrong, but the cost of cellular data in this country is very high and with the data infrastructure that runs along the rail lines it would be much easier and cheaper for KR to contract a telco to install a MIMO data network along the rail network.

  5. Paul in Sydney says:

    Start small, free wifi at major stations, surf while you wait. It can’t be to hard or costly

    I guess the push is for getting it in the new EMU’s

    I think it would help raise the profile of rail/PT


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