More Wi-Fi on Sounder trains

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Routers on all 58 Sounder cars will improve Wi-Fi service to thousands of south and north line riders every day

Sound Transit this week began installing wireless routers on its 58 Sounder train coaches, improving Wi-Fi coverage for thousands of weekday riders who use Sounder to commute to Seattle from as far south as Lakewood and as far north as Everett.

When the upgrade is complete at the end of this month, passengers will be able to board any car on a Sounder train and access Wi-Fi coverage. The additional routers will also allow for faster download speeds, since data will travel along a greater number of Wi-Fi connections.

Sound Transit began offering Wi-Fi on Sounder in 2009. Technology and funding available at the time restricted installation of modems to 18 cab cars. Passengers wishing to connect to the internet needed to be in a cab car to obtain a cellular signal, which was often spotty due to the limited number of modems serving multiple-car trains.

Sound Transit began testing new Wi-Fi routers this spring after receiving rider requests to improve Sounder Wi-Fi connections. Tests showed improved functionality with upgraded equipment that included replacing interior antennas with external ones.

Wi-Fi access will still be limited by service provider coverage range. High cliffs along the north line Sounder route will continue to block internet and cell phone connections, for example, and some areas along the south line route may still occasionally experience spotty service. More users logging on to Wi-Fi may also hamper throughput.

Equipping all Sounder train cars with routers is good news for the increasing number of riders using Sounder for their weekday commutes and game-day travel. Second quarter boardings were up 13 percent to the same period last year.

A complete schedule of Sounder service is available at soundtransit.org/schedules