BENGALURU: Next time you see a BMTC bus sporting a premier liquor brand name in large, bold letters along its sides, fret not, it’s only advertising CDs.
BMTC’s move allowing liquor brand promotion on its buses has left activists fuming. The alcohol brand has jumped to clarify that the advertisement says ‘music CDs’, albeit in fine print.
With a yearly revenue of nearly `15 crore from advertisements on its buses, BMTC doesn’t seem to mind that it comes from exhibiting brands that also produce tobacco and liquor products.
“It is ridiculous,” says Dr Vishal Rao, oncologist and member of the state high-powered committee of tobacco control, Karnataka.
“Surrogate advertising, which is used to promote banned products, on government-run buses is quite disturbing. BMTC is very insensitive to allow such advertisements on its buses which is used by the common people” he said.
Many passengers feel that apart from poor aesthetics, it’s turning increasingly difficult to distinguish a BMTC bus from that run privately. The minuscule BMTC logo doesn’t help either.
“I thought it was a private company bus. And then I saw a BMTC conductor issuing tickets to passengers. BMTC’s identity has gone at the cost of advertisements,” said Vasanth Kumar, a regular bus passenger at Majestic bus terminus. He said some advertisements on the windows of buses block passengers’ view, making it tough to identify locations.
Rule 127(1) of the Karnataka Motor Vehicle Act prohibits display of ads on private or public transport vehicles without permission from the Regional Transport Authority. But experts feel even with permission, advertisements on buses could distract motorists and lead to accidents.
Traffic expert MN Srihari concurs and says advertisements on vehicles, including BMTC buses, will create a negative impact on road users.
“It will divert the attention of motorists especially near traffic signals which will end up in accidents and traffic congestion. It’s time to ban advertisements on buses as well as roadside digital banners. Safety of motorists is more important than making money,” he said.
Many BMTC drivers also complained that often the vehicle’s paint peels off when they removes the advertisements. “Scratches and scuff marks will appear when the advertisement is removed after the contract ends,” said a BMTC driver.
A BMTC official said, “We don’t receive adequate funds from the state government. Revenue from passenger traffic is not sufficient which is why we rely on revenue from advertisements. But we will look into the complaints about advertisements of liquor brand on BMTC buses.”