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BMTC advertising options will increase once we launch our ITS: Ekroop Caur

By M4G Bureau - October 07, 2014

Dr Ekroop Caur, Managing Director of Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), shares her outlook on outdoor advertising in conversation with Rajiv Raghunath. Edited excerpts of the interview:

As the head of BMTC, you are leading an important part of Bangalore city infrastructure. Are there any plans to expand your transport infrastructure?

My main task is to provide mobility to the people of Bangalore. To a large extent we are meeting the transport requirements of Bangaloreans to their satisfaction. Almost 42 per cent of the city's riders are commuting on BMTC buses, whereas we account for just 5-6 per cent of the vehicles on the road.

There is always room for improvement, and there is scope for increasing our operations. In fact, in the interest of decongesting the city we would want 38-40 per cent of the people on the road who are using two-wheelers and another 10 per cent who are using cars to use the public transport, especially in the core central business district (CBD) area, If not in the periphery. In that sense we have a tremendous responsibility, so we need to gear up and provide high quality services. We also want that travel by public transport should not only be comfortable but speedier than other modes of transport for the switchover to happen. We are working in that direction.

What further steps would be needed to get more people to use public transport within the city?

One important missing point is the last mile connectivity that needs to be improved. We have made a small beginning by providing park & ride facilities. We have started this in ten of our traffic and transit management centres (TTMCs). So, people can drive from the suburban areas, park their vehicles at the TTMCs and use public transport to move within the city. 

Similarly, we would like to connect with all modes of transport such as the Metro. If there is good connectivity, more people would be inclined to use the public transport.

Are there any plans to modernise the BMTC fleet?

In India, we are probably the leaders when it comes to the fleet. We have a modern fleet and the latest additions to the fleet are integrated buses fitted with state-of-the-art technology, GPS, camera, etc. We are also moving towards having an intelligent transport system (ITS) for the entire fleet. We will fit even the older buses with GPS, cameras, etc. The buses will have two-way communication with the control room. The ticketing will also be done electronically. The project is already in the pipeline and we should be launching it very soon. That would make a big difference to our operations.

The 42 per cent of commuters in the city who travel by BMTC buses make up a potentially large outdoor audience for various advertisers. What steps are you taking to enhance the advertising opportunities on BMTC properties?

Once we have the ITC in place we will have a clear profile of people who travel by our buses. Advertisers can use that information to plan their advertisements on BMTC media. Also, on an experimental basis we are negotiating with an entity that will facilitate area-based advertising. In that case, if a bus is passing through a particular area, only ads of those areas will be shown on the LED screens inside buses. This will be applicable in the Volvo buses that have LED screens inside. Soon we will have very many targeted advertising options.

Will modernisation of fleet lead to greater advertising interest?

Yes, I am sure. A modern fleet will not only draw more riders but also newer buses are much better equipped, so the scope for advertising will be much more. With LED screens you can show so many advertisements in a short span of time.

Now that complete wrap of buses is not permitted, our focus is on in-bus media. We are looking to make them more attractive to advertisers.

Talking about targeted advertising, you operate buses to the airport. The airport connecting buses cater to a high income segment. Is there scope for developing advertising opportunities that are targeted at the higher income groups?

Yes, there is scope for creating posters on seat backs or posters above the glass window pane. For different services we have different agencies that come forth with the options. The agency that has taken up Volvo advertising is a creating an entirely different kind of media.
Of course, we have certain specifications regarding advertising when we give out contracts. Agencies also come up with innovative ways to make the most of the opportunities that we make available.

BMTC buses connect with the semi-rural areas too. Is there scope for advertising on those buses?

Yes, there is scope for advertising on all our buses. The bus back panel is quite popular for advertising in the semi-rural areas.

The OOH industry is increasingly looking at long-tenure contracts. Do you offer such opportunities to the industry?

We don't go in for very long term contracts but we give a decent period for a person to invest and get the returns. Where investments are high, we give contracts for a longer tenure. This may be the case with regard to LED screens, but for simple formats like seat back panels, the duration of contracts is a lot shorter.

What percentage of your revenues comes from advertising?

More than 80 per cent of our revenues comes from sale of tickets. Commercial is a small part, and within commercial, advertising is an even smaller part. The advertising revenues will increase in the future. With the Court order disallowing wraps we did take a hit but we are exploring new options to attract advertisers. There is good potential for advertising at our TTMCs and on hoardings on our premises.

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