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  (Source: Mayhem Photoblog)
Wi-Fi will be free to start with says Amtrak

Internet access has become over the years something that many people just can’t live without. Access to the internet allows us not only to be entertained, but to learn and work as well. America today is well covered with internet access, even if some of the access is very slow by global standards.

Over the last year, internet access has been added to places where travelers traditionally had no service. The most important place to get internet access was in aircraft. Gogo internet access from Aircell is now installed on some aircraft in most major airlines fleets and the internet connectivity is being added to more flights all the time.

Internet access in the air allows business people to continue work while sitting on the plane eliminating downtime and increasing productivity. Some automotive manufacturers are also offering in car Wi-Fi as an option allowing all the passengers to get an internet connection when needed. Internet access is also coming to another type of mass transit -- trains.

Amtrak has announced that it will be adding Wi-Fi to some of its train routes for free (for now). The caveat is that once riders are hooked, Amtrak will likely start charging. Starting in March, Wi-Fi will be offered on Acela trains that travel between Boston, New York, and Washington.

The addition of Wi-Fi on trains is a way for the trains to compete with airlines that commonly offer Wi-Fi on the same routes today. Amtrak spokesperson Cliff cole said, "That's [the need to compete with airlines] part of it. It's more about our initiatives to add services for our passengers and create a better riding experience."

The train ride from New York to Washington takes nearly three hours and the new Wi-Fi access will let riders stay productive while riding the nation's railways. Amtrak has plans to add Wi-Fi to Northeast regional trains as well and eventually access will be offered outside of the East Coast.



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Did anyone else notice
By Drag0nFire on 1/14/2010 2:21:37 PM , Rating: 5
that this article doesn't start until the fourth paragraph?




RE: Did anyone else notice
By bissimo on 1/14/2010 2:31:13 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, that kind of bothered me too.


RE: Did anyone else notice
By michaelklachko on 1/14/2010 2:50:28 PM , Rating: 2
This article contains all its information in the title.


RE: Did anyone else notice
By Yawgm0th on 1/14/2010 3:33:01 PM , Rating: 3
Typically, the writers here like to spend the first half or so of the article telling you why the topic is important, and then the rest is copypasta or close paraphrasing from the source article.


RE: Did anyone else notice
By subhajit on 1/15/2010 6:20:28 AM , Rating: 3
There should have been a photo of the 'internet' as well


RE: Did anyone else notice
By CorwinOfAmber on 1/14/2010 9:53:50 PM , Rating: 2
irritated me


It better be free
By corduroygt on 1/14/2010 4:12:31 PM , Rating: 3
Given their outrageous ticket prices in the NY-DC corridor, yet they still lose money. I don't understand how this is possible.
However the trains are indeed very nice.




RE: It better be free
By Nfarce on 1/14/2010 10:24:53 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Given their outrageous ticket prices in the NY-DC corridor, yet they still lose money.


Seriously. AMTRAK is 40 years old, has seen billions in government subsidies over the years, and still cannot make money. In fact, we, as taxpayers, in 2008 alone paid $32 out of our own paychecks for each Amtrak passenger.

http://www.usatoday.com/travel/news/2009-10-27-amt...

But never fear! Government, especially under the current administration, is all too eager to throw more money at it.

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2009/03...

All this money over the years and I still can't take a train from Atlanta to Orlando; or Chicago; or Dallas; or St. Louis. Not that I'd want to of course. Trains are great in Europe (especially that kickass TGV in France) and great in major metro US cities.

Trains are neat, nostalgic, and even romantic, but for business commuting across states in the US, it's just not practical. I can fly from Atlanta to Washington DC/Dulles, starting the stopwatch from the departing airport parking garage to the arrival airport rental car parking garage in 4 to 4-1/2 hours - and be in downtown DC in 5 hours (assuming no major delays of course). That trip on an Amtrak train ride from Atlanta to downtown DC's Union Station is 14 hours plus.



RE: It better be free
By BZDTemp on 1/15/2010 6:16:10 AM , Rating: 1
Have you ever taken the train for a trip similar to the one in question?

Traveling by train is great. Much less stressful than flying and the travel time can be used much more efficient than when flying. Plus it's green'ish.

PS. I wonder how much money the government puts into air traffic (directly or indirectly). Airports are not cheap and then there is the ATC plus the money spend on military tech that helps develop flight tech. essential benefiting civilian air travel...


RE: It better be free
By Nfarce on 1/15/2010 5:33:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Have you ever taken the train for a trip similar to the one in question?


No, I have not. I'd seriously consider it if my company ever had me run that route. But they haven't, and the majority of US business travelers do not take that route (overall) which was my point. That's a specialized market and one of the few that actually appears to work well and efficient.

quote:
PS. I wonder how much money the government puts into air traffic (directly or indirectly). Airports are not cheap and then there is the ATC plus the money spend on military tech that helps develop flight tech. essential benefiting civilian air travel...


The vast majority of Americans fly for travel over long distance. In addition, have you ever thought about how many employees are there for airports (government like the TSA or private for that matter) compared to rail? But besides your point, when was the last time you heard of an airport, or highway for that matter, losing money for the government?


RE: It better be free
By BZDTemp on 1/15/2010 8:53:09 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
But besides your point, when was the last time you heard of an airport, or highway for that matter, losing money for the government?


Let me answer your question with a question :-)

When was the last time you heard of an airport or a road which made money for the government? We pay for all sorts of infrastructure through taxes. With trains it is easy to see how many uses them and to calculate the cost while with air traffic it is more complex due to the system being more complicated.

As for roads they may not need people to do the actual transporting of passengers but they cost money to build, maintain and so on. I would be surprised if road does not cost a lot more per citizen than trains. I am also sure some roads see little use meaning they cost a lot per car and are mostly payed be people which never go near them.

If cars, planes or trains are the most expensive is hard to say. It is like much else run by the government it may sometimes be hard to see why we should pay for x but indirectly it is likely we benefit. Or at least someone benefit and we may benefit from something they do not (while they still pay their part).


RE: It better be free
By Nfarce on 1/15/2010 11:57:00 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
When was the last time you heard of an airport or a road which made money for the government? We pay for all sorts of infrastructure through taxes...As for roads they may not need people to do the actual transporting of passengers but they cost money to build, maintain and so on. I would be surprised if road does not cost a lot more per citizen than trains.a


In roads, we pay for them in fuel taxes in the US. You don't buy gas, you don't pay, pretty simple. The government, of course, doesn't ever "make" money. The key is what the government pours money into and what the taxpayer gets out of it.

For example, we get out of public education kids that (hopefully) will become productive members of society. The roads we get goods from 18-wheelers and "free" will usage of at our beckon call at any time, day or night.

Travel by rail vs. air? Meh, if the infrastructure was there to support travel by the masses like it is by air, then you may have a point. America's infrastructure and lifestyle does not support rail on a mass scale. And that's the bottom line.

It's all in the numbers - soul level literally.


OK
By tjr508 on 1/14/2010 2:57:47 PM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't it be more useful to add this to routes that don't already have sufficient mobile services available?

On a different note, it is a little tasteless to show a train wreck image to advertise this article.




RE: OK
By kkwst2 on 1/14/2010 5:43:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
On a different note, it is a little tasteless to show a train wreck image to advertise this article.


So you're saying it was too classy a move for this bunch?


Business train only
By NARC4457 on 1/14/2010 5:45:51 PM , Rating: 3
So from BWI to NYP, the cost for the Acela ranges from $127 to $212 each way . This is a business train, and I've taken it many times into the city. Bottom line, this is an expense account move as folks will just charge this back to whatever company is sending them anyway.

The Acela is a great way to travel, but just plain too expensive compared to the regional lines which cost much less, but obviously take more time. They should add this to the regional since they get more traffic anyway.




Free?!?
By klstay on 1/15/2010 8:27:24 AM , Rating: 2
Nothing about AMTRAK is free; including Wi-Fi. As others have already pointed out this national joke of a train system is heavily subsidized and always will be. How about at least getting a little closer to running in the black with MY F-ING MONEY before adding more services also out of my wallet?




By callmeroy on 1/15/2010 8:35:21 AM , Rating: 2
...its just a short distance travel but you don't want to deal with immense traffic (or in some cities - parking) nightmares.

For long distance, to which I'm sure everyone defines differently, a plane makes 1000 times more sense in terms of costs and speed.

Heck to be honest I just thought about a NYC to DC trip -- even for that I think I'd rather pony up a plane ticket over the train.

I've done "mock ups" of trips cross country (i.e. from PHL to LAX) for starters total trip time was like 70 hours...yes you read that right seventy. And unless you enjoy huge chunks of that time in a standard seat -- you'd like want to book a room with one of those fold down beds...add it all up the same trip from coast to coast that I've seen tickets for as low as $450 round trip on a plane in the last month or two, would cost you 3-4 TIMES that amount on a train...plus you'd take about 63-64 hours longer to get there.




Hooray!
By Agentbolt on 1/14/10, Rating: -1
RE: Hooray!
By bigboxes on 1/14/2010 1:04:30 PM , Rating: 2
I took Amtrack from NYC to Albany one time. Nothing but a pleasant trip.


RE: Hooray!
By HotFoot on 1/14/2010 1:24:11 PM , Rating: 2
It's certainly a relaxing way to travel, especially compared to flying, but it's really not for those in a rush. I used to train from Montreal to NYC, and it's comfortable and scenic. However, it took 11 hours, all-told. Driving myself shaves a few hours off that trip.

Then again, last time I flew to NYC was with Continental, and it was 7 hours between leaving home and the plane finally taking off (we sat 5 hours on the tarmac). On the return flight, I found they had over-sold the plane and the only reason I got home in time to work the next day was because a couple was nice enough to stay back an extra day to get a free travel voucher.


RE: Hooray!
By SocrPlyr on 1/14/2010 1:28:45 PM , Rating: 3
I agree with you 99%. The other 1% is the Acela, which actually is just about as fast as flying NYP to WAS when all delays are considered. The locations of the current passenger rail network in this country is actually quite good. What is bad is the speed and frequency of service.

Oh and the Daily Tech should have chosen a picture of an Acela train instead of just a generic Amtrak image (significant difference in capabilities and look).


RE: Hooray!
By lelias2k on 1/14/2010 1:51:01 PM , Rating: 2
Imagine if it was as fast as the TGV or the Shinkansen...

China is building the largest high-speed network in the world (around 40k miles) and we're spending billions with airport security that doesn't really work...

Where's the logic in that?

Oh, that's right, you can't teach an old dog new tricks...


RE: Hooray!
By GaryJohnson on 1/14/2010 2:42:01 PM , Rating: 2
We're spending billions, China is spending hundreads of billions. I'd like to see a high speed network in the U.S., but for the short term upgrading airport security is a couple of orders of magnitude cheaper.

Also, if we had a high speed network in the U.S. train stations would need a level of security similar to that of airports.


RE: Hooray!
By AEvangel on 1/14/2010 3:12:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
but for the short term upgrading airport security is a couple of orders of magnitude cheaper.


Why do we need to pay to upgrade it at all?? Let the airlines provide their own security or get out of the flight service business.


RE: Hooray!
By GaryJohnson on 1/14/2010 5:44:27 PM , Rating: 1
In our democracy, for any given issue, there will always be more people who are willing to stand up and say "I want this" than there are who are going to stand up and say "We don't want to pay for it". It's part of our credit-centric society. None of us are as dumb as all of us, especially when it comes to finances.

The only way to resolve that is to make all debt, including national debt, illegal. If you don't have the money to pay for something, you can't have it. No matter whether you are an organization, a corporation, a government entity, or a private individual. But how many politicans, on any side of the fence, are calling for that?


RE: Hooray!
By Nfarce on 1/14/2010 10:37:19 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Why do we need to pay to upgrade it at all?? Let the airlines provide their own security or get out of the flight service business.


Get out of the business? That's a rather juvenile and ignorant comment. Do you even know how airports are run?

But to answer your question why - it's that pesky entity known as government. Government owns them and leases them out either to private companies or cities - in other cases, management of them is turned over to local airport/port authorities like in New York and Boston.

You therefore need to ask the FAA why taxpayers are paying to upgrade airport security costs.


RE: Hooray!
By ClownPuncher on 1/14/2010 1:30:34 PM , Rating: 2
I usually do Seattle to Vancouver BC once a year on Amtrak. Smooth, painless, and pretty enjoyable really.


RE: Hooray!
By Shig on 1/14/2010 1:51:08 PM , Rating: 2
+1 to Amtrack, they are solid here in Chicago.

Midwest needs internetz too!


RE: Hooray!
By Lord 666 on 1/14/2010 1:41:18 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like you are talking about New Jersey Transit. Wish they had this free wifi service, it would just barely reduce the headaches of the rampant delays.

I juggle my commutting between ferry (that has free wifi) and NJT based on my schedule. Definitely look forward to the boat days, especially due to the bar.


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