New Brunswick

Saint John unplugs free Wi-Fi from city buses

Saint John city buses will no longer be offering free wireless internet to riders after costs climbed out of control.

Frank McCarey says the costs of the service tripled in recent months

Saint John city buses will no longer be offering free wireless internet to riders after costs climbed out of control.

Frank McCarey, the general manager of the Saint John Transit Commission, said the decision to disconnect the Wi-Fi service from city buses came after noticing a pattern of increased use.

"There started to be a pattern of abuse develop, especially in the last six to eight months, where we had a lot of people streaming and downloading very extensive files and the usage got very high,” he said.

McCarey said over that period of time costs for Wi-Fi tripled, from about $1,000 to $3,000 per month.

So the decision was made to cut the service.

"You like to offer things, just as long as they’re not too expensive," he said.

McCarey said the commission looked at a technical fix.

“There were ways to control that but in order to do so, we would have had to get into putting individual IP addresses on each bus, which would have been more expensive in terms of our monthly costs and it probably wouldn’t have saved much money,” McCarey said.

“So we decided it was something that we couldn’t afford to offer.”

At the busy King's Square bus stop on Tuesday, Saint John Transit riders said they were just noticing the change.

Shane Wheaton said he's noticed his phone no longer picks up Wi-Fi on the road.

"It was a nice thing to have on the bus, even just to send a casual Facebook message or whatnot,” he said.

Wheaton said he is disappointed that some riders tried to take advantage of the free internet service.

"It takes only a few people right,” he said.

Mallory Bowling uses the bus as a main means of transportation and she enjoyed the service.

"It was good for people that needed it, people that take the bus regularly, for email or whatever,” she said.