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Public WiFi on buses – exploring the benefits and solutions

Woman using phone on a bus

There has been a lot of discussion, if providing a WiFi service is essential or necessary on a bus network.  Operators have the challenge of thinking about the experience of passengers on board, versus the cost of providing on-board WiFi services.

It is accepted that public WiFi isn’t going away, even with the data offers that mobile phone operators provide as part of their service.  Today, wherever you go, you will be encouraged to connect to a free WiFi service – in your local city, at your favourite coffee shop and even when you are just browsing the shops.

Yet, whilst travelling, you will have more dwell time to browse the internet, chat with friends or share details about your journey – so shouldn’t all public transport services provide free WiFi?

We have found the majority share the opinion that it should.  Here are some reasons why:-


This is relevant to most journeys, irrelevant of the journey time.  By entertainment we mean access to:-

  • News

  • Social media

  • Music

  • Streaming – videos, programmes, films

  • Podcasts

Whilst we travel, we may want to check out the latest news, a travel connection, or simply the weather.  Everyone loves to check out their social media channels, update what they are doing, or use the time to catch up on their favourite podcast or listen to a playlist. Providing a great WiFi service, enables passengers to do just this and encourages use of these services so they can enjoy their time travelling, especially if it can be a lengthy journey. 

Picking up the mood of passengers and giving them the tools to enjoy their journey throughout, irrelevant of the signal from their mobile phone operator.  Essential especially for parents travelling with kids who want to keep them occupied and make the journey more interesting and stress free.

Working journey

woman listening to music on bus

Providing a fast and reliable WiFi services, enables passengers to make their journey productive.  With a smartphone, tablet, or even a small laptop – they can easily connect to the WiFi service and prepare for an important meeting, read essential emails, or for students, carry on with their work and projects.

It can create a positive experience of travel, where you enable passengers to maximise their time, allowing them to work or study by providing a great WiFi service.

Live information

Providing connectivity to passengers, is a great way to enable them access to essential live updates – which are difficult to access whilst driving instead of using public transport.  It could be they want to search for a restaurant to choose where to eat when they get to their destination, check where an address is, or simply find out about a connecting train of their onward journey. 

This helps keep passengers informed, this helps to make happy passengers.

Supports safety and potential emergencies

Everyone wants to feel safe as they travel.  Providing passengers access to fast WiFi, provides the reassurance that if anything happens, they can easily get in touch for help.  It gives the platform of using texts, social media, the ability to share a location – all ways how a passenger can shout out for help, without worrying if they have a mobile phone signal.

Having access to live information and messages, also provides passengers with peace of mind and naturally makes them feel safer.

Barriers for Buses

People sitting on a bus

There are a lot of positive reasons to provide onboard passenger WiFi but there can be challenges for operators:-

Cost – it may be free for passengers but there is a cost to provide the WiFi service and without getting the right partner or solution – this can have an impact on the bottom line.

Usage –  many bus networks have journeys that differ massively and the amount of time that passengers are spending on board.  Some journeys may be 10 minutes, others 30 minutes and some over an hour.  On the shorter journeys, less or hardly any may be using the WiFi service, compared with the longer journeys where the WiFi service is used by many passengers.

Service – if a passenger see that free WiFi is available, logs on and then gets poor speeds, an intermittent service or just a poor experience – what is the point of providing the service in the first place.  This then becomes the cost of providing a service that never gets used.

Solutions and thoughts

The are number of key points to consider when making the decision to provide free onboard WiFi services the right one.

Service appears to be the priority.  If you are providing a slow, clunky, and cumbersome to log into service, then what is the point.  You are promoting and paying for a solution that nobody will want to use, then it just becomes an unnecessary cost.  Focusing on providing a WiFi service that is easy to connect to, with minimal time and effort, then a fast, reliable service, will go a long way to get passengers using the service. It will attract passengers and keep them coming back.

It is a costly service to provide, so looking at which routes it is being used on is useful.  You could then make a decision as an operator to just provide WiFi on the routes where it is being used, it may just be the longer journeys that you provide but a great way of providing the service where it is needed.

Choosing the right partner is essential, they will make sure you have the right infrastructure to provide fast, robust and seamless WiFi services and the ability to engage with passengers to encourage them to keep travelling with you.  Protecting passengers online is vital, especially when there are children and families, make sure they are able to provide adequate filtering service to meet the Friendly WiFi safe standard.  This shows that inappropriate material is being blocked from access to ensure a safe and enjoyable browsing experience for passengers.

Robustel – Friendly WiFi Approved Partner

We are choosey with whom we partner with, and we are passionate about recommending the right partner.  Robustel became an approved partner last year as they launched their new product for the provision of WiFi on buses. 

They are experts in technology and their products and services will enable you as a bus operator to provide a fast and efficient WiFi services to passengers.   Robustel’s RCMS router management platform provides a range of services and features, enabling connectivity with using any Sim.  In addition to passengers WiFi, it provides peace of mind, alerting you to any maintenance issues, you can customise their services to suit your needs.  They are also able to provide filtering solutions, enabling you to apply for the Friendly WiFi certification.   Details of their services can be found here plus their contact details or if you prefer, we can make an introduction on your behalf, just drop us an email to


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