As part of a six-month pilot project, Metra has installed cellular Wi-Fi hotspots on 11 railcars, one car for each of our 11 lines. The purpose of the test is two-fold. We want to determine:
- Is this technology dependable enough to meet the needs of our customers? And, if so...
- Is it financially feasible for Metra to expand the program?
The pilot program is similar to one recently launched by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) on its South Shore Line. Like the NICTD program, this Wi-Fi service is available on a car-by-car basis instead of a full train. Since the hotspots have been installed in just one car per line, not every train will have one. When a train does have one, it will be located in the cab car, the farthest car from the locomotive where the engineer sits while operating the train on inbound trips.
In general, the hotspots are limited to a 1 megabyte-per-second download speed per user. Checking email and Internet browsing are the intended uses of this service, rather than streaming video. Streaming video will likely impair service and there may be cellular dead zones along the route.
To offer feedback about the quality of the Wi-Fi service, please complete our Wi-Fi survey.
Last year, to further enhance the agency’s customer connectivity options, Metra completed installation of charging stations at all five downtown stations and implemented free Wi-Fi in the waiting areas.