Buses, easy targets that bear the brunt of public anger during agitations, are now trying to spread the message of harmony. City transport service PMPML is displaying advertisements appealing to people to refrain from pelting stones on its buses.
“Last month, after communal tension led to violent incidents, we were talking about how, whenever any protest or rally happens, people take out their anger on buses. Even if the issue has nothing to do with buses, people pelt stones or damage buses,” said Ramakant Bhokare, chief of the PMPML advertising department.
“That is when our Chairman and Managing Director RN Joshi came up with the idea of putting up advertisements with a message on buses,” added Bhokare.
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Around Rs 50,000 was spent on the advertisements designed by PMPML officials themselves. “If this was given to an agency, the cost of designing advertisements and coming up with slogans would have cost us around seven to eight lakh rupees. But this work was done by our team,” said Bhokare.
Almost 200 buses were damaged last month during the strife between two communities. Both sides vent their ire at buses. “The damage was approximately 1.5 crore rupees. The PMPML is already cash strapped and on top of it such incidents happen,” said Bhokare.
There are 200 buses that carry advertisements inside and 100 display it outside. The advertisements appear in 20 bus shelters, too. “These are important bus shelters that see a lot of activity every day, like the Swargate bus shelter. More and more people will see them. The advertisements are in catchy Marathi phrases so that attention of people is caught,” said Bhokare. “We received a lot of congratulatory messages. Many people who called up the grievance redressal cell told the authorities that they liked the ads. We hope there will be some improvement in people’s behaviour,” said Bhokare.