WESTPORT, Conn. – Metro-North commuters may be able to browse the Internet from their laptops, tablets and other devices using wi-fi as they travel to and from their destinations if state Rep. Gail Lavielle gets her way.
Lavielle, R-143rd District — which includes parts of Westport, Wilton and Norwalk — proposed a bill that would require Metro-North to provide wi-fi access to passengers. The proposed legislation would also allow a private contractor to provide the service.
“Our hardworking commuters travel for hours every day on Metro-North, and they want to spend their time productively," Lavielle said in a statement. “Commuters have seen a steep spike in their fares, and they have a right to expect service improvements.”
Several years ago, the railroad sought bids from Internet service providers, Lavielle said, but the process of outfitting the trains with wi-fi has been “moving very slowly.”
“Many have written to me about the need for wi-fi, and I hope that it will be possible to speed up the process,” she said. “There should be no roadblocks related to funding, because as I understand it, an arrangement with a private contractor could allow Metro-North to provide wireless service at no cost to taxpayers."
The wi-fi proposal is one of several transportation-related bills Lavielle has introduced to improve the rail experience for commuters and other passengers. One bill would extend weekly or monthly tickets after any rail service outage of 48 hours or more.
She also introduced a bill that would protect commuters from rail fare increases during prolonged periods of stagnation in personal income. Another would allow permanently disabled people to get parking permits that would not have to be renewed.
Lavielle has also introduced bills that would improve service on the Danbury branch of the New Haven Line, which extends from Norwalk to Danbury, and passes through Wilton, Ridgefield, Redding and Bethel.
“Fairfield County is a key economic engine for the state, with the New Haven rail line and its branches providing more than 39 million passenger rides each year,” she said. “Continuing to upgrade the branch lines will not only lead to more frequent and faster service for commuters, but will also enhance property values, reduce traffic congestion and take pressure off parking facilities at main line stations like South Norwalk and Westport.”