FAX bus image via City of Fresno
Written by Frank Lopez
It will be some time before Fresno FAX buses are equipped with Wi-Fi coverage.
On Thursday the Fresno City Council rejected all proposals for a public Wi-Fi project to provide riders with free high-speed wireless internet access onboard Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) buses.
City Manager Thomas Esqueda said that the main reason these bids are being rejected is for cybersecurity issues.
“We have made it a priority for all the department heads that all of the software, hardware technology devices that they have—we don’t want to get caught in a ransomware situation. It is a priority for us to protect the system. My understanding is that the technology we looked at as part of this was vulnerable,” Esqueda said.
Brian Barr, assistant director of transportation for the City of Fresno, said that they are in talks with major carriers to find an affordable solution for the project.
Barr said the department ran tests on the proposed Wi-Fi systems and were able to hack in and access city networks.
The city has received four proposals since the solicitation for the project was announced in December 2020.
The bids come from Icomera US Inc., based in Maryland with $189,994, Red River Technology LLC in Sacramento with $173,016, Wireless Investors, LLC in Gilbert, Arizona with $68,945, and WAAV, Inc. in Boston with $42.858.
The BRT fleet consists of 118 buses.
The staff report states that the annual cost of $180,000 to maintain the Wi-Fi project across the entire fleet is unsustainable financial.
The project also includes plans to connect two BRT stations as a pilot project for a period of one year.
The discussion for public transit to feature Wi-Fi as an onboard amenity has been ongoing since 2015.
Councilmember Tyler Maxwell, a proponent of the project, said this issue has been delayed for years and that action must be taken soon.
Maxwell said if the Department of Transportation doesn’t find a solution, the city should consider partnering with private entities that have reached out with assurance they can complete the job.
“I know there is a lot of [private] interest out there and I just know that we can’t wait another five years. I’ve only been on this council for six months but I’ve seen this issue kicked down the road since … 2016,” Maxwell.