Perth tenders for free public transport Wi-Fi

The West Australian Government has started a formal consultation process for the provision of free public internet on Perth's public transport network.

The Public Transport Authority of Western Australia has put out a formal call to internet service providers (ISPs) to supply Wi-Fi internet access on its buses, trains, and stations.

At present, the Transperth fleet includes two ferries, 1,430 buses, 56 three-care trains, and 48 two-car trains that will eventually be fitted out with the free Wi-Fi access points.

"We live in a highly connected community. We use online services to shop, bank and chat with our friends and families," Transport Minister Dean Nalder said.

"Governments need to respond to the community's preference for greater flexibility, quick access to information, and easier transactions. This is part of our strategy to deliver provide a better customer service for passengers."

According to the Minister, a trail will be conducted on 10 trains throughout both the central and greater Perth CBD once the tender has been awarded. A spokesperson for the Minister said the length of the trial will depend on its success once launched, saying it will run longer if the trail experiences "teething problems".

Nalder also said that a number of ISPs had approached the Government to supply the state's public transport with a Wi-Fi solution, saying that some companies offered to provide the service for free in exchange for advertising revenue.

"I am confident we already have the best public transport system in the country, but it is important we stay ahead of the curve and look at ways we can improve," he said.

"That's why we've decided to go to the market to find out if it's reasonable to improve the customer experience in this way."

The tender will close on September 1.

Back in early 2013, the West Australian Labor Party leader Mark McGowan pledged AU$1 million to fund a free Wi-Fi trial for 10 of Perth's trains if his party won the election. At the time McGowan said that free Wi-Fi was a tool to attract commuters onto the city's new transport network, Metronet -- which was another election pledge -- and out of their cars.

Liberal Leader Colin Barnett, who was re-elected into the role of Premier, had previously dismissed the Metronet plans stating that without costing there is a major funding black hole associated with the plan.

Earlier this year the state government announced that it was entering the 2015-2016 financial year with a AU$2.7 billion deficit, with this year's budget making mention of the government's plans to reduce its IT spending across multiple departments.

Upon running for re-election in 2011, the current Lord Mayor of the City of Perth, Lisa Scaffidi said as part of her campaign that she would equip the city with free Wi-Fi if she was successful in her appointment.

Currently, Perth Airport's Domestic Terminal, Perth Arena, and a fleet of 100 London Taxis in the greater Perth area are equipped with free WiFi, which is provided by iiNet.

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