Even as Kochi awaits the commissioning of Metroservices early next year, private buses are moving a step ahead in a bid to beat the service on the digital front by offering a host of facilities including Wi-Fi, digital boards and CCTVs to ensure safety of passengers and prevent thefts.
A pilot project was launched two weeks ago by choosing a bus on the Ernakulam-Piravom route and the response so far is positive. “To provide a convenient and safe journey to passengers, we decided to go digital. We offer 4G Wi-Fi facilities to passengers. In our bus, there is an electronic board just behind the driver’s cabin that displays the name of next stop, something which will benefit passengers who are unfamiliar with the area. Moreover, there is an automatic system to announce stops,” said Anil Thomas, who owns the bus Sangeetham that was chosen for the project. He added that owners of other buses have approached him seeking his assistance to install the devices and follow his example.
There are four CCTV cameras inside the bus. “We want to ensure passenger safety. The visuals captured will appear on the monitor set up in front of the driver. A Bengaluru-based firm developed the entire system. My investment was Rs 50,000,” he said.
Experts in road safety and transportation supported the move. “These are innovative steps. The state government should make such facilities -especially stop announcement and CCTVs – mandatory for public transport vehicles. It should set an example by installing the same in KSRTC buses. Criminals, including thieves and eve teasers, wouldn’t board such buses. The digital display board and announcement system will be added comfort for passengers,” said Upendra Narayanan, director, Indian Institute of Road Safety.
Passengers too welcomed the move. “I enjoy undisrupted Wi-Fi connectivity during my journey,” said Hareesh Chandran, a regular passenger from Amballoor, who works as graphic designer in Kochi.
But, motor vehicles department officials said that there were no rules to make such provisions mandatory for stage carriages. “We can’t press them to install such facilities. If they provide them on their own, it is a welcome move,” said ErnakulamRTO P H Sadiq Ali.