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'KSRTC Infrastructure Allows Advertisers To Connect With Audiences Across Karnataka'

By M4G Bureau - October 08, 2014

Vishwanath K S, General Manager - Traffic, Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), talks about the corporation's transport infrastructure and advertising opportunities. Read on.

KSRTC transport infrastructure is spread across the state of Karnataka, connecting urban and rural areas alike. What are the new developments in this space?

KSRTC connects with every part of the state of Karnataka. We reach 99.2 per cent of all villages in the state. We have bus stations everywhere, from the ones at the hobli (village) level to the huge bus station complexes at places like Peenya, which was launched recently. We have large bus stations at places like Hassan, Mysore, etc.

Unlike the private bus operators who operate from the roadside, we create infrastructure for the maintenance of the buses. Lakhs of people visit our bus stations every day. That is a large audience for any kind of outdoor advertising.

We have hoardings and glow signs at the bus stations, and more recently, we introduced public address systems on a PPP basis. This is a new and innovative medium. I saw it functioning very well at Gulbarga.

The public address system is fully computerised. We give the database to the vendor and they ensure that the announcements are made promptly and clearly.

In the days to come they also plan to introduce RFID cards whereby once the bus conductor flashes the card upon entering the platform, the announcement of the bus arrival will be automatically activated. The vendor can use the same public announcement system to run audio advertisements.

Such refined announcement system in the semi-urban and rural areas attracts the attention of a very large number of commuters.
We are also promoting advertisements on the back and side panels of buses, as well as inside the buses.

To create greater advertising interest, we clustered our locations into three zones. Zone I has 2,544 buses, Zone II has 1,704 buses, and Zone III has 2,386 buses. So, we have some 7,000 buses available for advertising.

Besides, we give ad rights to hoardings on our premises as per our open scheme. For instance, we levy Rs 15 per sq. ft per month for advertising on hoardings at MCDC bus station and Kempe Gowda Bus Station. Anybody can come and display their advertisements. All that they have to do is make a deposit of Rs 2 lakh. For Mangalore and Mysore we have fixed a rate of Rs 12 per sq. ft. For districts like Tumkur, Chickmagalur, Kolar, Chitradurga, Shimoga, and so on, it is Rs 9 per sq. ft. It is Rs 7 per sq. ft at the taluka level.

The fuel cost is increasing but we cannot transfer the entire burden on commuters. Some of these costs can be offset with advertising revenues. In the days to come we will have to increase the volume of revenues from commercial activities including advertising. At the same time, the outdoor industry should look to tap into the various media opportunities that are offered by KSRTC.

Are there any plans to modernise your transport infrastructure?

KSRTC is an old organisation. Some of our infrastructure is more than 50 years old. We identified the places where there is good traffic and where we have large parcels of land, and we have put up new bus stations, such as, at Shimoga, Hassan, Peenya, etc. We have many such projects in the pipeline which will get underway depending on the financial position of the corporation.

Would you engage private players in the development of your infrastructure on BOOT basis, in a manner that they also get the advertising rights to the infrastructure?

Some time back we planned an ambitious Rs 1,600 crore project at the Kempe Gowda Bus Station, keeping in view the proximity of the railway station, proposed Metro line, and the city and inter-city bus station itself. However, when we floated a tender inviting private participation in the project, the response was poor. The private players in fact asked for viability gap funding of Rs 500 per annum.

Given the size of investments needed, the gestation period and associated risks, private players are not forthcoming to invest in bus transport infrastructure on BOOT basis.

Are you open to offering long-term contracts?

We did introduce longer term advertising contracts but it did not bring the desired results. So we now stick to the open scheme.

Is there scope for digital media at KSRTC infrastructure?

Yes, we welcome media firms who come forward to create innovative media.

Is there a way you can monitor the data on commuters which can be used by advertisers?

The Majestic area has a footfall of 7-8 lakh a day. That's a huge audience. Similarly, if you take any city, the maximum number of footfalls will be at the bus station or the railway station. We do capture dispatch figures at the bus stations, the load factor in each of the buses, etc.

Some corporations have experimented with TV networks inside buses. Do you have such plans?

As of now, some of our Volvo buses have satellite TV networks. We have a tie-up with a local agency and each seat back of select Volvo buses has an LED screen. This is there on our FlyBus which operates between the Bangalore airport and Mysore. We are open to advertising on this media as well.

Overall, we have close to 8,000 buses. The Northwest and Northeast segments have another 10,000 buses. And we have 50 big bus stations.

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