Wi-Fi buses are starting to roll around the city. When will they come to your neighborhood?

The City of Sacramento has teamed up with the Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) and California State Transportation Agency to turn buses into free wireless hotspots in communities with limited high-speed internet access during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These mobile Wi-Fi Bus hotspots will help remedy the lack of internet access that threatens to leave thousands of our students farther behind,” said Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “I thank all of the partners who worked to make this happen, and I hope to see it replicated on a larger scale around California.”

The first three Wi-Fi Buses go live Monday, May 4 in six different alternating locations to help promote opportunities for distance learning, telework and telehealth. Seven additional buses will be deployed to more “digital desert” communities across the city beginning the week of May 11. Buses will provide 3.5 hours of wireless broadband services at two locations each day, with updated schedules available at thewifibus.com. 

“We are excited to be the first city in California to test this innovative Wi-Fi Bus concept,” said the City’s Chief Innovation Officer Louis Stewart. “The Wi-Fi Buses are an important tool to bring vital internet connection to our neighborhoods.”

The 10 SacRT Wi-Fi Buses are outfitted with combinations of equipment provided free of charge by partners AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Cradlepoint, Sierra Wireless and Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, to offer high-speed connectivity with a range of up to 1,800 feet.

Hotspot locations will be determined in collaboration between the City of Sacramento, Valley Vision, Sacramento Public Library, SacRT, the California State Transportation Agency and public health officials. High-need locations will be selected with input from local school districts, community organizations and digital divide research, as well as the ability for users to maintain physical distancing and follow public health guidelines. The Sacramento Public Library will provide bus parking at its branches and robust online resources for students to access when connected to the WiFi Bus network.

Schedules and locations for May 4- 8 are available at thewifibus.com.  Starting May 11, the Wi-Fi Bus will be operating seven days a week.