Muni unveils the "connected bus"

February 25, 2008 4:02:04 PM PST
For the first time, some Muni bus riders got to experience free wi-fi access and informational touch screens. It's called the 'connected bus', and it made its first connection on the 10 Townsend line.

"It's self explanatory. If you're a computer whiz, it's very simple," says Barbara Brooks, Muni Driver.

Barbara Brooks has been driving Muni buses, but she's never driven one like the 'connected bus'. First of all, it's green outside. Second, it's green inside and Muni says it's 95 percent emission free. To help passengers on the 10 Townsend understand how it works, David Evans, from Cisco Systems, was on board this morning.

"We use a Sprint data network and it lets people use computers via wi-fi through Cisco's router and connect out to internet," says Evans.

One of the first people to put the Muni connected bus wi-fi to the test was Colleen November from Sizemacom Marketing.

"It'll be good for everyone. You can get a start on the morning checking your email," says November.

AC Transit already has a wi-fi bus, but the folks at Muni say this bus connects more than just people with the internet. Its onboard computer connects with the bus' operational system, creating maintenance logs and performance evaluations.

There are five touch screens -- one by the driver, two overhead, and two in the back of the bus. The screens tell you how long your wait is if you want to transfer to another line and that's why Muni calls it the 'connected bus'.

AC Transit has wi-fi on 90 busses, while Muni has it on one. Mayor Newsom predicts this $10,000 dollar system will be on every Muni bus someday.