It all began when I decided to commute via a city bus from Electronic City (the place where all the IT companies are) to one of the prominent malls in town. I caught a bus but lo-behold I didn't get into an ordinary one I got into a A/C Volvo (Yes Volvo!!!) bus.
It didn't take me very long to figure out the usefulness of this facility. In a city like Bangalore where travelling from one place to another always takes more time than you expect you need something to engage you during the course of your travel, you need something which will take care of things you forget (such as an email you need to send or a reservation you need to make) and finally you need something that will make those one or two hours you spend travelling productive. You might argue that laptops and cell phones are there for this very purpose but I would defend myself by saying that wi-fi enabled laptops and cell phones are still beyond the reach of the common working class person (who makes up 60-70% of the population here in India).
Now since we have established how useful this facility could be its time to talk about how useful this facility actually was. The screen I found staring at me looked something like this:
I must apologize for the low quality of the picture but that's the best my cell phone could do in broad daylight. I saw an icon for Facebook, You tube, an icon for games, found one for bus schedules (which I thought was useful) but there was no icon for Gmail (I kid you not!!!) or for that matter link to any other email or messaging service. I didn't lose my heart and went right ahead with my exploration by clicking on the Facebook icon. I was led directly to a personal details page where I filled in my name, DOB and my phone number. I fully expected to be led into the Facebook login page when i found myself staring at another page where I was required to fill in the access code that was sent to my (registered) mobile number.
I travelled on the bus for thirty minutes and its been more than a week since that trip but I haven't received anything which barely resembles an access code. All this made me question why such an investment was actually made in the first place when it didn't serve any meaningful purpose at the end. There are a number of ways that the BMTC (Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation) could actually make money out of this service. They could have had links for train and bus bookings (or any other partner corporation) upon the headrest kiosks. Instead of sending access codes to the mobiles there could be access cards (just like calling cards) of different time durations that we could purchase from the conductor. Depending on the estimated time of travel you could purchase an access card for a specific time duration and key in the access code (on the card) into the kiosk which will then allow you to access the desired link of your choice.
Just as I said in my previous blogs there are a number of things you could do but the question is how do you do them and when do you try them. I believe the best way to find out is to run these services on a few buses in some specific routes and gauge the response of the customers. Unless and until that happens there is a very high chance that you will keep encountering a service or a facility that will exasperate you more than it enthralls you.
Until Next Time,
Here's wishing you a happy journey wherever you go,