Wireless internet access will be available free of charge on TransLink's transportation system starting in 2020.
In about a year, TransLink customers will have free wireless internet access during their commute.
On Wednesday the Regional Transportation Authority announced that it has partnered with Shaw Media Company to offer the service on its SkyTrain, SeaBuses and Buses.
"It's going to have a huge impact on the experience of our customers," said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond, "They can surf, stream, connect with family and friends and get some work on their travels."
Desmond said that Wi-Fi would come free of charge to TransLink or its customers. According to the agreement, Shaw will install and operate the system, and it will be accessible to everyone, even if they are not customers. The transaction is the first of its kind in Canada.
Since 2016, there is free wireless internet at SeaBus terminals and on SeaBuses through a similar agreement with Shaw.
When asked if users will need to switch ads to access the wireless internet, Desmond said that is an option.
"All the operational details for the next few months will be detailed, it could be part of the package, but we have to see how it will end," he said.
TransLink and Shaw will work on system planning and plan to run trials in 2019 when customers can access Wi-Fi in 2020. TransLink expects the entire network to be completed by 2025. The launch will begin on SkyTrain and buses.
In the end, the plan is to get Wi-Fi on all modes of transportation, including HandyDart, West Coast Express and community transportation.
Guy Exeter, director of Translink's Real Estate Programs and Partnerships, said that although limited trials were made on SeaBus and six buses, it would take four or five years to complete the system that has more than 2,000 vehicles outfitting them with the appropriate equipment and would be "very complex . "
"What we do not want to do is that we do not want to roll over 2,000 moving vehicles and find that we have to bring everyone back into the warehouse and try something else," Exeter said. "That's why it will take a little bit, we want to do it right the first time."