I’ve mentioned the importance of wi-fi before. And also the possible consequences of 4G that might, just might, render the on-bus technology redundant, given the supposéd speed of 4G. I’m not actually technically qualified to comment, of course, but 4G speeds seem like they will be geek heaven.
Anyway, unless and until 4G is very popular, buses that allow free wi-fi offer something of a competitive advantage over the car. If anyone saw the re-run of series 1 of Dangerous Drivers’ School on Channel 5 Star recently, they will know that it *is* possible to drive *and* use a smartphone at the same time, but that the driver concerned was probably the worst motorist I’ve ever seen (yet the cocky little so-and-so thought he was doing others a favour).
Brian Souter now feels that there’s a strong case for fitting every bus with free wi-fi technology. Said Souter, “I actually believe that we should probably be putting wi-fi on everything now.” Whenever has Souter been wrong? (OK, rhetorical question, but it isn’t often).
Why consider bus-based wi-fi? Try these:
- The aforesaid commercial advantage over personal transport
- The company landing page can give important information
- Some tablets only work on wi-fi and not 3G
- 3G can be interrupted and slow, when on board. Wi-fi is usually fast and consistent
- It adds to customer satisfaction.
- It will soon be a “given”
There’s more, though:
- It can enable the two-way transfer of data from ticket machine to base
- CCTV images can be viewed in real time back at the garage
First is now fully onboard with wi-fi. Announcing First’s Valentine’s Day £76mil vehicle order, all of which will feature wi-fi, Giles Fearnley said, “Fitting wi-fi as standard is also increasingly important for our customers”.
The only misgiving I have concerns the fact that the internet is, these days, increasingly the competition. It means we need to travel less often. It’s an uncomfortable fact.
Once upon a time, you caught a bus to your local high street or shopping centre to be regaled by shops with music albums, books, jewellery, beauty products (for those who needed them), groceries, small appliances, gifts and even clothes. Remember that? Remember postage stamps?
|Even buying online has its difficulties... but there is still plenty of choice in cyberspace, unlike on the high street|
If you need to buy something by Mantovani (a sometime Bournemouth & Poole resident, as it happens), how many outlets on the high street do you know that sell a good range of CDs, these days? Where are Our Price Records, Virgin and increasingly HMV? Remember when Woolworth’s had a fine array of vinyls? And larger Boot’s had a record bar? I have a colleague—a colleague, mark you, one who works in buses—who never physically shops any more other than for groceries. It seems you can now even buy fashion online and simply return it by post if it doesn’t fit or suit.
Is it me? Am I alone in feeling slightly uncomfortable about the prospect of encouraging our core market—shoppers—to shop online and therefore travel less? Or am I just a luddite? Would it happen anyway? And I haven’t even mentioned the impact on shop workers’ jobs that has an effect on bus traffic.
Soon, I’m sure I’ll be able to get a haircut online without the inconvenience of a bus trip to the barber’s...