The City of Cape Town has launched the first taxi and bus rank free WiFi access project in Mitchells Plain, allowing passersby, commuters, drivers and vendors to use the service.

The rank, located on the corner of AZ Berman and Wespoort Drive, is the first public transport facility in the city to benefit from free Wifi through Transport for Cape Town (TCT), the city’s transport authority.

Users have up to 100MB to use via the AlwaysOn portal per day.

“This pilot project enables TCT to gain priceless insight into the number of commuters making use of the PTI (public transport interchange), their habits and movements, and the amount of time they spend at the facility on a daily basis. Meaning, we will use the free internet service as a tool to monitor public transport passenger movements at the PTI in Mitchells Plain,” said MMC for Transport, Brett Herron.

“This way we will get a much better understanding of how commuters use the public transport services offered at the PTI. We will use this data to improve our facilities and services and to better plan for future demand,” Herron added.

R4.7 million has been budgeted for this service, which serves as a pilot for other similar roll outs.

Mobiles will be monitored

Those who are very conscious about security may not be pleased to know that the city will require their permissions to monitor their phones while they’re logged onto the free WiFi network.

According to Herron, the monitoring will not include private information.

“I want to add that commuters do not need to be concerned about their privacy. The monitoring of their smartphones and devices is limited to movements through the PTI only. We will not have access to the private information on their devices,” he said.

The monitoring will stop once a commuter moves beyond the PTI’s borders and they are no longer connected to the free WiFi.

The success of the pilot project will determine the project’s future.

“We would like to roll out free WiFi at the Cape Town Station Deck in the central business district, the Joe Gqabi PTI in Philippi, and the Bellville PTI in the next financial year. All three of these public transport interchanges are due for major infrastructure upgrades and, ideally, we would like to include the provision of wireless internet in the tender specifications,” said Herron.