I had another long Amtrak ride without wi-fi yesterday, and I have to wonder why. So I drew up my top 5 reasons Amtrak should install (free) wireless Internet:
1. Customer service. People want on-board wi-fi, and it will make them happy. Making customers happy may not be a “core value” in the transit business right now, but many other enterprises swear by it.
2. Public order. Passengers surfing the Internet may be doing bad things, like sending spam in which they claim to be Nigerian bank managers. But this keeps them too busy to do bad things in real life, which keeps things nice and quiet on the train. Just the way conductors like it.
3. Cell phone mitigation. People who can email won’t need to talk on the cell phone as much. We hope.
4. National pride. European trains are starting to roll out wireless Internet. Do we really want to give them something else to feel superior about?
5. Just plain pride. The $10 BoltBus has wi-fi. In fact, yesterday I briefly used a Greyhound wireless signal that I was able to pick up as I sat on the train. And that’s just pathetic.