Riders at the Allegheny Station. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Light rail riders in Pittsburgh will soon have access to free WiFi thanks to a new deal between the Port Authority of Allegheny County and Comcast.

The Port Authority board approved a seven-year agreement allowing Comcast to install Xfinity WiFi hotspots at several high-volume T stations. The service will come at no cost to the Port Authority or riders accessing the high-speed internet through their smartphones and other electronic devices.

The hotspots are expected to arrive by June at the Station Square, First Avenue, Steel Plaza, Wood Street, Gateway, North Side and Allegheny Station stops.

“The stations have been known for being dead spots for cell service,” says Port Authority spokesman Adam Brandolph. “The ones that are underground have no service. We thought that providing this small amenity for riders would benefit everyone involved.”

The service will remain free and easily accessible to riders regardless of whether or not they have an Xfinity account. Xfinity Internet subscribers can simply sign into the service using their IDs and passwords, while non-subscribers only need to follow a few simple steps.

“It works like any standard hotel WiFi,” says Brandolph, adding that non-subscribers will connect to the service by pulling up the WiFi settings, providing a valid email address, and agreeing to the terms of use. Once registered, a device will automatically connect to the hotspots during future trips.

Comcast already provides WiFi for transit riders in Philadelphia, Boston and New Jersey.

Brandolph says it’s not a huge jump to have free WiFi at T stations, but it shows that Pittsburgh’s public transportation services are making progress.

“It’s 2017,” says Brandolph. “It’s something our riders expect and it shows that we’re embracing technology.”

He says the service will come in especially handy when, in the near future, the light rail system adopts TrueTime, the real-time vehicle tracking app already used by city bus riders.

To locate Xfinity hotspots at Port Authority stations and throughout the city, riders can download the Xfinity WiFi app or visit the company’s website.

Amanda Waltz

Amanda Waltz is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared locally in numerous publications. She writes for The Film Stage and is the founder and editor of Steel Cinema, a blog dedicated to covering Pittsburgh film culture. She currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and oversized house cat.