Did you hear the latest news at Fivebars HQ? We’ve been fortunate over the last couple of months to concentrate on our team development, one of our latest recruits is Katie! Katie is the expert when it comes to on-board passenger WiFi, so we thought we’d take full advantage of Katie’s knowledge. Take a look at why on-board passenger WiFi can revolutionise the way operators work.

Having worked within the on-bus technology industry over the last 6 years and talking to operators up and down the country the increasing question is “How do we increase passenger numbers and engage with our customers”.

Wi-Fi is becoming increasingly prevalent for transportation and travel companies throughout the world and is now considered a necessity rather than a luxury. With it becoming increasing expensive to own and run a car, (especially for the younger generation) being able to keep up with work, connect with friends or even check the latest journey information online helps make public travel more productive and could help shift users away from private vehicle use.

Now I believe that increasing passenger numbers for any operator is a great benefit but with so many now offering free Wi-Fi, it’s about utilising the full capability of the device.

It’s still a common misconception among transport operators that bus Wi-Fi is simply a case of putting a router with a SIM card on a bus. If you are looking to provide the absolute basic internet access to your passengers, then it probably is. However what else are you able to do with it? Very little is the answer.

Keeping Passengers Engaged & Entertained

It’s now important for passengers to stay entertained while on the move. Whether that be updating their social media or watching their favorite TV box set or movie. The new innovative technology to develop on from just offering passengers connectivity is adopting an infotainment system that uses a BYOD (bring your own device) platform so that riders can have personal viewing of onboard entertainment on the go.

The benefits of having such a device means that the operator is in control of how video is being accessed. Currently most passengers watch videos and music over the Wi-Fi and therefore using precious data allowances. This could also affect the users viewing experience if there were a poor connection or a number of passengers connected to the Wi-Fi channel. Having an onboard Wi-Fi system allows passengers to view content locally via a web app before even connecting to the internet. Operators also have full control of the back office software and can upload and update content remotely when they want or over Wi-Fi when the vehicle is on-site.

Return On Investment

Whilst offering more to passengers is great, I believe it is a fantastic opportunity for operators to get a real return on their Wi-Fi investment through the ability to integrate with third party systems that can monetise on-board passenger Wi-Fi or through local advertising portals. In addition to this, operators could utilise this to further promote their own services through apps or social media. A good example of how this works well is to have the custom landing page direct all passengers accessing the Wi-Fi to download an app from the app store over Wi-Fi. Alternatively, you could offer incentives for passengers such as being entered into a monthly draw in return for providing their details or email addresses.  These are all ways you can further market your company without spending large amounts on traditional avenues such as print marketing.

Creating an Onboard Central Hub

Another interesting point I often hear from operators is the amount they are having to spend on technology not only from a hardware perspective but due to the fact that every device whether that be a ticket machine, CCTV, tracking, driver analytics or next stop announcements will require connectivity usually provided through a SIM card. By installing a central Wi-Fi hub onboard on a vehicle not only are you able to offer all the wonderful things already mentioned, but the system can also allow you to connect existing equipment. With features available such as a hidden accessory channel, Ethernet port, GPS modules, HDMI & Audio Jack outputs and vast amounts of onboard storage operators can rest assured that their vehicle is future proof.

Are you impressed? Do you have any questions? Katie and the rest of the team are on-hand to answer any questions. Just give us a shout for more information.