City agency chugs along to bring free Wi-Fi to Gold Line

Photo from Metro.net

By Mary Allen

In a slow-moving project to bring high-speed Wi-Fi to Gold Line train passengers, the board of the  Community Redevelopment Agency   on Thursday is scheduled to inch forward on a $1 million free wireless Internet project intended to boost ridership. The lengthy process, which began as a City of Angels Blue Ribbon Committee Broadband/WiFi Report in 2005, is now coming to the point of awarding a contract to Xentrans, which will prepare design specifications and a request for proposals from vendors.

Providing public Internet access on the Gold Line,  which travels between East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights and Northeast Los Angeles and Pasadena, will attract riders, according to the project memorandum. Among the project’s goals:

  • Increase public transit usage
  • Decrease cars coming into downtown Los Angeles
  • Reduce emissions and greenhouse gases and additionally
  • Provide free Internet access as public service to commuters

Offering Internet access on public transit supports the investment sponsored by Experience LA in current city WiFi access points at Pershing Square and other locations.

The $113,000 contract being voted on Thursday is part of the proposed total budget of $1.2 million for the Wi-Fi pilot project, which includes implementation and installation of equipment. Currently there no other Metro rail or bus lines that offer WiFi. Both Amtrack and BART have implemented or are in the process of offering WiFi to commuters.


  1. Gold line commuter for 2 years and please let the budget gods smile on this project. Though I feel the red line needs it more since there’s no reception at all but a positive step no less.

  2. LA is WAY behind other cities on free pubic WiFi internet access. Even with this ExperienceLA bit, it is only a few places, nearly all in downtown. What about the rest of the city — where nearly everyone is?!

    For example, New York has free WiFi in ALL the city parks — not just a few spots in Times Square. Even Burbank beats LA — for instance, Burbank offers free WiFi at the airport, but LAX has no free WiFi! Many airports offer free WiFi, but again, LA is behind the ball, instead wants to find ways to make money off it directly.

    So, this Gold Line effort is in the right direction — although I’m not so sure it is the highest priority for WiFi network money to be spent considering all the rest of the city that doesn’t have it. It also strikes me as a bit rediculous for a transit system that is about 99% based on buses that don’t have WiFi. And that price is pretty high, if you ask me.

  3. I’m not sure I see the point of this…. who checks their email on this short ride? I’d much rather see that cool million go towards making the train cars more bike friendly. It’s getting crowded on there lately! (Which is great!)

  4. Considering the train cars go from end to end on the boarding platforms and the width has already been set by the rail routes I cant imagine anymore accommodation short of ripping seats off. Unless one feels that a person with three modes of transportation trumps those with only have legs and the subway.

  5. This needs to happen!! Especially if you’re taking it from Pasadena to East LA. This would be great!! Hope this happens.

  6. just more for the thugs to steel from you. the goldline has become the free ride to the thugery of L A. We dont need wi fi we need more cops on the line a lot more, and how about making the turnstiles useful we paid for them start useing them it will help keep the rift raft off

  7. I actually agree wiht Katherine. I don’t ride the Gold Line, but the others I’ve rode are overflowing already. So I don’t see any need to spend money to attract riders when they can’t even get a seat now. Which is a point, if you can’t even get a seat, how are you going to use WiFi, even if for just a 15 minute ride?

    This overflowing part is partly because we have been investing in the cheaper, WRONG kind of rail — because we want instant gratification and the cheaper stuff is faster to build. These light rail systems can’t handle the 15 or 20 or 25 cars per train that a heavy rail system can, like in New York. So, we get trains that are about 3 cars long — and can’t handle the demand. We want more people to ride transit, but the system we are building can’t handle all the people.

    And as such, what is the point of spending all this money on WiFi for a 15-20 minute ride, when like Kathryn said, it could go to something more useful, like more accommodation for bikes. Or to WiFi where it actually can be used, like all the city’s parks like in New York.

  8. To be fair, when they were doing the report back in 2005 the Gold Line had yet to meet its ridership projections. It wasn’t even open to East LA back then, and WiFi on transit wasn’t nearly as common. They just took too long to move forward and now the Gold Line is approaching rush hour capacity and a lot of other cities already have WiFi as standard…

  9. Correction the gold line is not near capacity. Right now 2 car trains are scheduled to come every 6 mins. The maximum capacity the system can handle is 3 car trains coming every 5 mins. This can be deployed right now because metro does not own enough light rail vehicles to deploy such a service.

    Light rail systems are not necessarily low capacity. 1 light rail vehicle has ~1.5 times the capacity of 1 traditional heavy rail vehicle so 3 car light rail train has the same capacity as 4 car red line train. Also 90% of our light rail stations could easily be extended to handle 4 car trains so you get the capacity of a 5 car red line subway train, 1 car short of its maximum capacity.

  10. Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees!!!!! I love you people!!!!

  11. I can’t imagine busting out a laptop on the Gold Line and trying to read or get work done. If I need to check email, I have a smartphone. How about some cell service in the subway tunnels instead, please. If there’s an emergency, I’d love to be able to get a text or call out to let work know I’m running late instead of them assuming the worst.

  12. Regular commuter here from Pasadena… use my iPad everyday while riding. Would love improved coverage. My AT&T wifi coverage is non-existant in tunnels and absolutely terrible in the Highland Park area.

  13. Count me among the “I don’t see the point” bandwagon. I wouldn’t dream of taking out my laptop in front of all the thugs & hood rats who ride the trains.

  14. It’s been a year now, did this ever inch forward any more?

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