COMPUTER LAP TOP/ WIRELESS TECHNOLOGY: A local surfs the Web in the street in the northern Salamanca town in this December 15, 2006 file photo. Salamanca, 200 miles (316 km) north of the capital Santiago, became Chile's first WiFi town in September. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet hailed the project as the first of its kind in South America and as a major step toward "cutting the gap between rich and poor, between the capital and the regions, between the large and small cities". To match feature CHILE-WIRELESS/ REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado/Files (CHILE)

Johannesburg - Installing wifi access points in taxis and taxi ranks would change people's perception of the taxi industry, Gauteng transport MEC Ismail Vadi said on Thursday.

“Man, I tell you. I would not have thought of an idea of getting internet into a taxi. It is a novel move,” he said at the launch of the SA National Taxi Council's (Santaco) Wi-Taxi project in Orlando West, Soweto.

He said an urban province such as Gauteng should have a high rate of internet connectivity.

Vadi said he was looking forward to the day when a taxi driver would send his queue marshall an email telling him to inform his passengers that he would be delayed due to a metro cop road block.

He said the taxi industry needed a better communication strategy.

“Commuters want change in driver behaviour, consideration for the lives of people in the vehicles and respect for the law.”

He said the industry needed to be professionalised.

“You remain our most important partner in the transport industry. I see massive growth for the taxi industry because we are far away from having an advanced public transport system.”

Santaco, Telkom and Telesure were partners in the project.

Santaco CEO Nkululeko Buthelezi said Telkom would provide the technical support for the project, while Telesure would contribute financially.

He declined to comment on how much would be spent on the project.

“It's in the tens of millions.”

Each commuter would get 50MB free a month.

Once they connected their device with the taxi's wifi network, they would be able to use the 50MB in any taxi or rank which was connected.

Once that 50MB was used up, a prompt would let the user know that the usage had run out. Users who wanted more access would have an option to buy more.

A total of 1500 taxis and 50 taxi ranks in Gauteng would be fitted with wifi access point devices as of June.

The subsequent phases would see between 4000 and 5000 wifi access points installed monthly country-wide, Santaco secretary general Vernon Billet said.

The taxi council expected the project to be completed within three years.