First it was the coffee shops. Then the airport and the ferries. Now it's the buses. Telecommuting has never been so easy. Yesterday, Community Transit in...

Share story

First it was the coffee shops. Then the airport and the ferries. Now it’s the buses.

Telecommuting has never been so easy.

Yesterday, Community Transit in Snohomish County launched a three-month pilot project and installed wireless Internet service on one of its routes, bus 422 from Stanwood to Seattle. Three buses run the commuter route in the mornings and afternoons.

And today, for the afternoon commute, Metro Transit kicks off a five-month pilot project to put Wi-Fi service on two bus routes, so passengers can surf the Internet while stuck in traffic.

The service will be available on route 48, which goes from Ballard to Greenwood to the University District and Capitol Hill and ends in Rainier Beach; and route 197, which goes from the University District to Federal Way. In all, 29 buses will be wired.

Sound Transit plans later this fall to offer Wi-Fi on 545 buses, five of which travel from downtown Seattle to Redmond.

All of the routes stop at the University of Washington.

Rochelle Ogershok, Metro spokeswoman, said the agency chose the two routes because it wanted to test Wi-Fi on an urban route and a long-distance one to see if there are any glitches.

Metro hopes to answer such questions as: Does geography have any effect on wireless connection? If someone downloads a large file, will that disrupt other users? Are there any dead spots where connections fail?

Wireless service has been installed in many of the area’s coffee shops, as well as at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and on some Washington State Ferries. But it’s never been available on buses.

Metro and Community Transit worked with Junxion Box, a Seattle company that designed the mobile-connection device, to install small green boxes on the buses to provide Internet service. Instructions will be provided on the buses.

Community Transit is paying $700 for each box and $50 a month per bus for the service.

Metro estimates the pilot project will cost $60,000.

Junxion Box also has provided wireless service for transit systems in upstate New York and in Riverside, Calif., outside Los Angeles.

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or sgilmore@seattletimes.com