Spend­ing from own pocket, con­duc­tor gives gov­ern­ment bus hi-tech makeover

Sunday Express - - SUNDAY STORY - THINAKARAN RAJAMANI @Madu­rai

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.

M Jaya­bal­aji

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.

| EX­PRESS

M Jaya­bal­aji with his bus at the Mat­tutha­vani stand

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