Pierce buses become Wi-Fi hot spots for online schooling

LAKEWOOD, Wash. — Pierce Transit has set up mobile Wi-Fi hot spots for students who need access to high speed internet to do online studies.

Susan Wagshul-Golden came to a parking lot in Lakewood's Town Center, and brought her family along, to test out using the signal from a Pierce Transit bus parked nearby.

“We wanted to see how easy it was,” said Wagshul-Golden.

Kids are out of school and doing studies remotely because of the statewide coronavirus shutdown. But not all families have access to strong high speed internet. So Pierce Transit is parking buses in two locations in the county to allow families to log on and use the onboard Wi-Fi signal to do their school work.

“Just like a lot of us adults who are working at home right now know very well, you’ve got to have internet connection to do that work,” said Pierce Transit spokesperson Rebecca Japhet. “So for students that don’t have that, it makes it really hard.”

The buses will be parked at two locations, behind Target and the Barnes and Noble book store at Lakewood’s Towne Center, and the Roy “Y” Park & Ride on State Route 507 and Pacific Ave. S. in Spanaway, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Just find the Pierce Transit signal on your device and log on, no password needed. The signal is accessible up to 100 feet from the bus and strong enough for lots of users.

“Back when we had full buses we could accommodate everybody on that bus, so you’re talking 30, 40 people. So we should be able to accommodate anyone who comes out and needs it,” said Japhet.

The mobile Wi-Fi hot spots are a pilot program and will run for about a week, but could be extended depending on demand.

More information is available at the Pierce Transit website.