Metrolink customers will be able to make a new kind of connection in future as part of a £1.7 million deal to roll out free Wi-Fi on every tram.
By spring next year all 94 trams will have the technology on board, as well as the 20 buses running the free city centre Metroshuttle service linking the main rail stations, car parks, shopping areas and businesses in Manchester city centre.
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) which owns the Metrolink network and Metroshuttle’s low-carbon buses has joined forces with Manchester and Salford City Councils and the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to fund the innovative scheme.
Metrolink is on track to be the first light railway in England to becoming fully Wi-Fi capable. This helps Greater Manchester move a step closer to its ambition of being a top 20 worldwide digital city region by 2020*.
Wi-Fi has already been trialled on Metrolink, with positive feedback from customers who used it. It is hoped the rollout will make the trams and Metroshuttle buses a more attractive journey choice, supporting TfGM’s commitment to sustainable travel.
Metrolink trams will start to be fitted out with the latest Wi-Fi kit from early January by mobile Internet connectivity specialist Icomera and extra funding has been secured to ensure any new trams brought into service in the next two years will also be fitted with Wi-Fi capability.
Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM Committee said: “This is great news and will benefit the millions of people who travel on Metrolink’s trams and Metroshuttle’s buses each year.
“We live in a digital age and people want to make the best use of their travelling time quick and simple access to digital technology is key to this.
“Greater Manchester is leading the way in the growing provision of Wi-Fi services on public transport, which in turn takes us one step close to our aim of being a top 20 digital city region by 2020.”
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Putting digital access at the heart of the city by improving connectivity is key to achieving our ambitious target of making Manchester one of the world’s leading digital cities.
“The introduction of free Wi-Fi on all Metrolink and Metroshuttle services ensures that residents and visitors to Manchester can make the most of mobile technology while they are on the go.”
Government Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey MP said: “This is fantastic news for Manchester and exactly the type of thing the Government’s Superconnected Cities programme was set up to do. Having free public Wi-Fi on all of Manchester’s trams and Metroshuttle services will transform the digital landscape of Manchester, making it an ever greater place to live, visit and do business.”
Councillor Roger Jones, Assistant Mayor for Transport, at Salford City Council, said: “This scheme has my full support and I am already looking at ways it can be extended to benefit more public transport users.”
Dave Palmer, Managing Director of Icomera UK, said: “Icomera is proud to be supporting this ambitious, forward-thinking project. Our technology is ideal for this digital city initiative, making public transport more user-friendly and communicative.
“TfGM recognises the important role Internet connectivity has to play in delivering the 21st century passenger experience. The adaptive nature of our solution will ensure it keeps pace with newer technologies as they become available, maintaining a state-of the-art network for TfGM’s passengers.”
Notes to Editors
*The aim for Manchester is be a top 20 worldwide digital city region by 2020. A number of large-scale projects are currently underway which will benefit businesses, residents and visitors in Greater Manchester. This includes:
- A total of 240 public buildings in Manchester and Salford will be transformed into free Wi-Fi hotspots. The programme is part of an £150 million investment (Super Connected Cities) to transform the digital capability of UK cities, making them even more attractive places to live, do business, visit and invest in.
- A £15M programme (Get Digital Faster) to bring fibre broadband to 45,000 businesses and homes in the 8 Metropolitan Borough Council areas in Greater Manchester (Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan)
- As part of Super Connected Cities, businesses in Manchester and Salford, as well as businesses in Stockport, Trafford and Oldham, can apply for vouchers to help improve their broadband coverage.
Media contact: For more information, contact Duncan McGraw, TfGM Senior Communications Officer, on 0161 244 1055 or email [email protected]
About Transport for Greater Manchester
TfGM is responsible for delivering the Greater Manchester Transport Fund, a £1.5bn transport investment package which will drive economic growth and create 21,000 new jobs. It owns and manages the Metrolink network, which currently covers 57.5 miles and 92 stops across seven lines hosting 30 million passenger journeys every year. For more information please visit the Transport for Greater Manchester website.