Written By HRISHIKA SESODIA
Twenty nine-year-old Umesh Parikh, a chartered accountant by profession, catches up with what is happening in the world and the last night’s IPL matches waiting for his bus at Shastri Nagar BRTS stop. “I use BRTS WiFi in morning while I am commuting to my office. I use it for reading news, watching cricket highlights or spending some time on social media,” he says. “But when I am returning home in the evening, I hardly get to use the free WiFi because there is no waiting time as buses arrive within minutes of me reaching the bus stop,” he adds
It has been two months since the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) launched free Janmitra WiFi service at 145 BRTS stops with an aim to increase ridership and improve the experience of commuters. The WiFi service begins from 7 am and is shut close to midnight. Anyone at the BRTS stations could avail the facility by generating OTPs.
“I have seen young boys downloading several things on their smartphones using the free WiFi service. Even if they don’t have to take the bus they will sit here and use the WiFi,” says Tinubhai, a 42-year-old security guard at Jantanagar station.
“People here do take advantage of the free WiFi service. Even I use it, but my usage is very less because of my work… We don’t get time as we have to rush,” says Mahesh Desai, a ticket collector at Akhbar Nagar BRTS station.
“Initially, when these WiFi services began, more number of people used to visit BRTS stations, but now I can hardly find anyone using the free WiFi,” says 29-year-old Mahesh Rathod, a ticket collector at the Himmatlal Park BRTS.
According to the AMC Commissioner Mukesh Kumar, a total of 145 TB of data was downloaded from the Janmitra WiFi service in the last two months. Total user stood at 71,730 and total number of OTPs generated was 1,42,500.
It is to be noted that the free WiFi service is now provided at 161 BRTS stations, AMC offices, hospitals, colleges and public places like Sabarmati Riverfront.
“Till date, the WiFi service has functioned properly at our station. We watch TV serials and cricket matches using the free WiFi. But the speed reduces after an hour of data usage,” says Nimesh Purani, a ticket collector at Jantanagar station.
“I tried using the free WiFi several times, but I found it very sluggish due to OTP errors. I find it easier to use my mobile data than the free WiFi. Also, here buses come within minutes, so it is better not to waste time in waiting for OTPs and be alert for the bus,” says Rekha Sharma, a 30-year-old homemaker at Shivranjani BRTS station.
However, DGM (Tech) of Ahmedabad Smart City Yatindra Naik claims that the city “provides the best WiFi services compared to other cities in the country”. “We have an ILL (internet leased line) with BSNL that provides 5 GBPS speed for Ahmedabad Smart City Plan. Under this plan, we provide 2 mbps free unlimited internet data to all WiFi locations,” adds Naik. With 250 buses plying on the BRTS, commuters say that they hardly have to wait for more than 10 minutes. “We have less time to use the WiFi because there is always a rush at the station,” says Hardik Desai, a ticket collector at Sola Cross Road.