BBMP turns bus shelters into ad panels

The display board, which was removed during the elections in May, remains bare to this day at a bus stop in the city. DH Photo/B H Shivakumar

An important component of the city's mobility ecosystem, BMTC bus shelters have been turned into mere advertisement panels, with no space even to announce the name of the bus stop.

Handled by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), these bus shelters have sacrificed public usefulness in the name of revenue generation.

While the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has 2,212 designated bus shelters, the BBMP had called tenders for 1,200 shelters. Built under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode, the shelters sport advertisements that bring revenue to the civic body.

Last year, the corporation had awarded work on 903 bus shelters.

The BBMP benefits from the advertisements as it would collect Rs 4.03 crore as concession fee and about Rs 4.9 crore of advertisement revenue. Commuters are disheartened about the use of shelters as advertisement hoardings at the expense of information useful to them.

Most shelters do not reveal the name of the bus stop, while it is concealed behind the hoarding in some cases. The shelters' back and head panels showing pictures of political leaders were removed during the elections, leaving them bare.

Vinay K Srinivasa of Bengaluru Bus Prayanikara Vedike pointed out that the shelters are designed for the maximum advertisement visibility and not for the commuters' convenience. "Some of them even block the view of the commuters when they sit on the benches," he said.

"We urged the authorities to hold public consultations before finalising the (shelter's) design and also submitted a list of our concerns, but all of them are ignored," he added.

BMTC managing director V Ponnuraj said they have written to BBMP officials and held at least four meetings to resolve the issue.

"We have brought the passenger inconvenience to their notice. Building a bus shelter has a purpose and at present, it is not being served. We have also asked them to provide space for digital boards displaying real-time information about buses, but are yet to get a nod," he said.

BBMP officials felt helpless as advertisement is part of the contract inked with the private company to build the shelters. "We need to respect the terms since the corporation is getting revenue (from the deal)," said an official.

Further, an official from the BBMP's Traffic Engineering Cell said they were in talks with the BMTC over designating a 4X4-ft area for passenger information systems.

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