MADURAI: Officials at enquiry counters of the Mattuthavani bus stand in Madurai these days find themselves inundated with queries for one particular bus. Armed with smartphones, inquisitive youth scan the entrance for the arrival of the bus with registration number TN63 N1710, and for good reason. With an array of devices taking care of entertainment and comfort of passengers, the Ramanathapuram- Thanjavur daily service via Madurai is a big draw among commuters, especially youth.
All this thanks to the efforts of the conductor of the bus, M Jayabalaji (28), who shelled out money from his own pocket to fund the vehicle’s makeover. With attractive stickers announcing the route, lighting, an audio system and sun-shades, the bus stands out from all other government buses. And what adds cherry to the cake is the free WiFi service for passengers. Jayabalaji spent around `10,000 from his own salary to add facilities for passengers.
Recently, he spent another `4,800 to give the bus a WiFi connection. His efforts have drawn eyeballs of people not just in Madurai, but in places surrounding it. The free WiFi, installed about a week ago, has been inviting more passengers to use this bus (although there are several other buses). “I had initially thought of buying a television set to attract passengers but later decided to get a WiFi connection to woo the youth, including school and college students.
The WiFi access point is switched on once the bus starts and can be accessed by several passengers at the same time,” Jayabalaji told Express. R Kamala Kannan, one of the passengers, told Express he had a wonderful experience travelling in the bus. The WiFi connection, he said, helps him complete official work, apart from using social websites on his tablet. Central and State governments have been providing free WiFi access in public places like railway stations and bus stands, and only a handful of private-run buses have WiFi connectivity. In such a scenario, Jayabalaji has set an innovative example that the government can build on in future.