MSRTC logoMaharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) is launching free Wi-Fi service for passengers through satellite link up in 100 Shivneri AC Volvo buses connecting Mumbai to Pune competing with a similar plan by railways for the Mumbai-Pune Deccan Queen, reports Times of India.

The report states that passengers can provide requisite details like their email id and mobile number to receive the Internet access log-in number via SMS. Its currently not clear as to whom has MSRTC partnered to offer this service, although the report cites a source to say that the service will be ad-supported.

In addition to this, LCD screens and CCTV with digital recorders will also be fitted in these buses to ensure passenger safety.

Road Transport Ahead Of Railways?

It appears that several state road transport corporations in the country have been implementing full Wi-Fi services while the Indian railways seems to be implementing only Wi-Fi pilot projects and is still to launch a full on board any of its train. No official reports for the public have been released after the pilot on their effectiveness, at least as far as we know (please share the reports with us if you have them).

Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation has been plying its intra-city Vayu Vajra buses with Wi-Fi facilities for over 2 years. It also appears that Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation is offering Wi-Fi internet service on its Airaavat buses. However, there has been no reports of the effectiveness of the Wi-Fi service on these buses. Interestingly, in April 2013, Broadband service provider Tikona Digital Networks launched a Wi-Fi network at the Maharana Pratap Inter-State bus terminus (ISBT) instead of its buses, in partnership with the Delhi Transport Corporation.

In contrast, the Indian Railways had launched a pilot project to provide free Wi-Fi facility to and fro on Howrah Rajdhani Express (as announced in February 2011) at 4Mbps download and 512 kbps upload connection. The official announcement for the launch of the pilot service was made in March 2012 stating that this service will go live by September 2012. However, the pilot eventually went live only in April 2013. Although two pilots to provide Wi-Fi were implemented on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Shatabdi Express and Chennai- Bangalore-Chennai Shatabdi Express in 2009, full services have still not been implemented on these trains.

The Railway Budget 2013 announced the launch of Wi-Fi service on trains during this course of this year.  The other announcements made in the Railway Budget 2013 with respect to digital include real time train tracking for passengers, SMS service for passengers to check reservation status, SMS/Voice/email service for passengers to intimate on board train staff about cleanliness of their train, among others. However, most of these services have been proposed in earlier budgets as well.