One of Vancouver's city buses offering free Wi-Fi

When I regularly rode public transit to work I’d quickly scan email and the news headlines on my smart phone to get a head start on the day’s work. (The rest of the time I’d read a newspaper — I’ve told readers before I’m a Luddite).

I wouldn’t spend a lot of time online because I was conscious of not getting close to a data limit. But I always wondered if my habit would change if municipal buses had free Wi-Fi.

If I lived in Vancouver I’d find out. Vancity Buzz reports that this week TransLink, the city’s transit service, and Telus have started a pilot project offering free Wi-Fi on three routes. The test will run six months before the partners decided if it will be extended.

Telus spokesperson Liz Sauve said in an email that one of the routes is the busiest, while two others are long routes where people will be sitting for a while.

To use the service riders only have to click ‘accept’ on an agreement page. The service is managed by Telus.

At the moment Telus has paid for the access points on the buses, which connects to its network. How it will be funded if the system is expanded to more routes has yet to be determined.

Free Wi-Fi is increasingly being offered by a number of transit-related organizations. It’s common in airports (for better or worse, because of the huge demand. I’ve had trouble this year at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport logging on. I assume it’s because of the hundreds of people around me), and on southern Ontario’s GO Transit train network.

Meanwhile BAI Canada continues to wire more of the Toronto Transit Commission’s subway stations for fixed Wi-Fi service.