Ever missed your destination on the circuitous streets of Bengaluru using a BMTC bus, because of the advertisements on the side panel? Well, worry no more. Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has decided to phase out side-panel advertising on its non-AC buses.
The BMTC says all side panel ads will be removed in a month, and as a countermeasure it has floated tenders to place ads on back panels instead.
The decision was taken after numerous consumer complaints about not being able to look outside the bus due to the opaque advertising side panels. Soon, the side panels will only contain a list of destinations written in both Kannada and English.
BMTC Chief Traffic Manager (Commercial) Hegade IV told TNM, â€śWe took this policy decision at board level based on input from consumers. A lot was written about it in the media. Consumers said they could not see outside the bus, and thus could not figure out when it was their stop.â€ť
The corporation stands to lose money as a result, though the new tenders may make up for it. BMTC made Rs 13.42 crore from advertisements in the last financial year (FY 2016-17).
Hegade admits he does not know how the revenue will look after this decision, which might not augur well for the BMTC. The corporation recorded a loss of Rs 260.91 crore in 2016-17 as it faced challenges from Namma Metro and app-based taxis.
On the other hand, consumers and staff are very happy with the decision.
Nagaraj, a bus conductor said, â€śI have no idea where I am when I get assigned to a new route, purely due to the advertisements. There are also new people in the city, and [the advertisements] make them completely lost. Only people who stand near the doors have any idea."
â€śThey really should remove all the advertisements, it doesn't benefit the commuter in any way,â€ť a passenger said.
The opaque nature of the side panel ads is especially problematic when commuters are standing. Standing commuters are often reliant totally on the conductor to guide them to the correct stop, and as Nagarajâ€™s case showed, even staff can be blindsided.
Amit, a bus user who regularly travels from Shantinagar Bus Station, said, â€śThey might have originally intended it to block people from the heat of the sun. But it is totally useless at night, and in heavy traffic. The newer buses do not have these ads and I always prefer to travel on those. This is one of the main reasons.â€ť