Saturday, December 5, 2009

When will the Acela get wireless Internet?

I was at a Washington Wizards game a few days ago, and an Amtrak advertisement came up promoting Acela service between Washington and New York.

The Acela, as many of you know, is Amtrak's flagship offering. Having been introduced in 2000, Acela is new -- by American standards. Reaching speeds of up to 150 mph for about ten miles of its trip between New York and Boston, it's fast -- by American standards.

And with a ticket price more than double the cost of an equivalent-route Northeast Regional train, it's expensive -- by any standard -- and that brings me back to that Wizards advertisement.

The advertisement encouraged people to "Go online." In October, Amtrak committed to getting Acela Wi-Fi in place by mid-2010. But what's the delay?

Next-generation northeast Corridor bus services like BoltBus and MegaBus already have free Wi-Fi for all of their passengers, as well as comfortable seats and power outlets -- and ticket prices of $25 for WAS-NYC.

Why is it so hard for Amtrak's flagship line to meet the level of service provided by buses?

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