The Measure K tax money will be used to install equipment on three train cars this year, so commuters can freely access the Internet on their way to and from work. Installation costs about $11,000 per car, according to ACE staff reports.
Another $2,250 or so a month will be spent on data cards, software and to maintain the equipment for the wireless service, according to the agency, which will present its plan on Friday morning to the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission.
ACE already hired a Palo Alto-based computer networking company called Hobnob Inc. in October to install the wireless connection on one train car. Commuters loved the free service, said ACE spokesman D’Andre Berry.
“It’s been received very well,” he said. “People are saying all good things, and that they can save time by working on the train.”
Now, the idea is to expand the service to more customers by offering it on a couple more trains this year, and maybe eventually on every train, transportation officials said.
After the money spent to install the WiFi equipment, ACE projects spending about $150,000 from Proposition 1B — a $20 billion transportation and traffic-reduction bond voters passed in 2006 — for upgrades, maintenance and the manpower to operate the technology, Berry said.
There are a few things to iron out, including how to speed up WiFi access in tunnels and in a couple “slow spots” at the height of the Altamont Pass, Berry said.
“We’re trying to figure out how to make the connection smoother, stronger,” he said. “It does get slow in spots, but it doesn’t disconnect.”
It’s still faster service than if a rider used their own WiFi router, he said. The service is free for passengers, and is expected to be available on four trains beginning this fall.
•Contact a Tracy Press reporter or editor at 835-3030 or email@example.com. At a glance
WHAT: San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission meeting
WHEN: 8 a.m. Friday
WHERE: South Hall meeting room at the Robert J. Cabral Station, 949 E. Channel St., in Stockton
INFO: 800-411-7245 or www.acerail.com