Beginning in late November, Washington State Ferries (WSF) and vendor Parsons Transportation Group will offer ferry customers an enhanced, fee-based wireless fidelity or Wi-Fi service. The improved service will include better connectivity on the vessels and the ability to connect while waiting at a terminal.
The Edmonds/Kingston and Seattle/Bainbridge routes will have the new Wi-Fi service available in late November, followed by Mukilteo/Clinton and Seattle/Bremerton in December. The rest of the routes will come online in early 2007.
“We are thrilled to partner with Parsons to improve our Wi-Fi capabilities,” says Traci Brewer-Rogstad, Director of Marine Operations for Washington State Ferries. “We are constantly looking for ways to enhance the customer experience on our ferries by looking to provide services and options for our customers. We believe having quality wireless connections at our terminals as well as on the vessels will improve the experience for many of our riders.”
The existing Wi-Fi service has been provided for free by Mobilisa since 2005 as part of a federal grant testing connectivity over water and was utilized by almost 8000 ferry riders on three routes and five vessels. The project has been considered a success and is being transitioned into a permanently operational, fee-based system, operated by Parsons.
Wi-Fi service over-the-water is a unique service, requiring more complex and extensive capital investment than land based Wi-Fi service. Parsons is responsible for the capital infrastructure, and the operation and management of the system.
“By providing this fee-based reliable Wi-Fi service, Washington State Ferries also expects to generate non-farebox revenue to be used toward operating costs, consistent with our strategic plan
” adds Ms. Brewer-Rogstad.
To transition to a fee structure, Parsons has developed three pricing plans to address customer needs:
1. Monthly access plan for $29.95
2. Daily access plan (24 hour period) for $6.95
3. One time use for 15 minutes for $2.95 (for 15 minute increment and .25 per minute thereafter)