When will MARTA trains have free Wi-Fi?

Actual Factual Atlanta: Here’s when MARTA says riders will get Wi-Fi

Welcome to "Actual Factual," a regular column in which I, Becca Godwin, answer reader questions about goings-on in Atlanta. Here's one I did recently about what's up with Skyview's other planned rides.

Now that you're familiar, you'll find information for submitting your own questions at the bottom of this column. 

Someone commented on this article about MARTA launching a real-time parking tracker with the following question: 

“Hey Keith, where is that Wi-Fi you promised on the entire system two years ago?”

Now, I realize I am not Keith Parker, MARTA’s general manager and CEO, but I am going to try and answer this inquisitive commenter’s question anyway.

MARTA has been working to get Wi-Fi up and running for a while now. In July 2015, the transit company announced it would pilot free Wi-Fi on buses, with a goal to have internet connectivity on both buses and trains by “next March.”

In mid-January 2016, Parker pledged to have Wi-Fi available for free on all buses, trains and subway stations within the next 18 months, a deadline which is fast approaching. 

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More recently, Parker mentioned Wi-Fi in a news release about MARTA using single-tracking service for a weekend to perform periodic maintenance to the rail line “while also providing an opportunity to upgrade our technology in the process.” 

 “MARTA is extremely excited about the advancements we are making to enhance our ridership experience with the addition of Wi-Fi service throughout our rail system,” Parker said in the April 7 statement.

Yet, riders on the train — whether they’re trying to get in a few early morning emails on the way to work or passing the time by scrolling through Facebook — are still plowing through their data with each trip they take. When will that end, really and truly?

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By September, according to a spokesman. What’s more: MARTA plans to start testing it this summer, and that test service would be available to the public.

As for buses, free Wi-Fi already functions on 468 of them. Those buses have “Wifi on Board” stickers at the front and back doors. 

The onboard Wi-Fi can be used for light web surfing, social media and checking email; some streaming and media services aren’t accessible. No password is needed, but the user does need to accept terms and conditions.

Just try not to get so distracted you miss your stop.

MARTA Wi-Fi login instructions
Photo: MARTA

Happy riding. 

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I, Becca Godwin, am a staff writer with the AJC and a lover of Atlanta, my adopted home for nearly six years after moving to Georgia from Florida. To submit “Actual Factual” questions, contact me at becca.godwin@ajc.com, @BeccaJGGodwin on Twitter or via the form below. Thanks.

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