Route boards of city buses should be written in at least three languages reflecting the changing passenger patterns of Kochi, say city administrators.

Though private buses operators were earlier asked to display bilingual route boards, in English and Malayalam, most of them chose to ignore it and stuck to Malayalam boards. Display boards in English should be made mandatory for buses covering tourist centres, said K.J. Sohan, chairman of the Town Planning Standing Committee of the Kochi Corporation.

Buses with Malayalam boards could be seen plying in the city despite a large number of people from neighbouring States using them. Such commuters find it difficult to identify the buses to their destinations. The council of the Kochi Corporation had earlier passed a resolution urging the district transport authorities to issue directives to the bus operators for displaying multi-lingual boards, he said.

Buses passing through the Khatari Bagh area, which houses a considerable number of people from north Indian States, should have the routes displayed in Hindi also. It should also be the case with buses operating in Perumbavoor and nearby areas where migrant and casual labourers from the neighbouring States are living, he said.

Ideally, route boards should be displayed in English, Malayalam and Hindi. A meeting of the authorities concerned should be convened shortly to discuss the issue. A request to this effect would be forwarded to the Mayor, Mr. Sohan said.

B.J. Antony, Regional Transport Officer, Ernakulam, said the buses were legally bound to display the boards in English and Malayalam. Though one cannot say that all the buses were complying with the statutory direction, majority of them were following it, he said.

Mr. Antony said no resolution from the Kochi Corporation on the route boards had reached his office. If the council has such a proposal to put forward, it shall be placed before the Regional Transport Authority for consideration, he said.

However, bus operators feel that such a proposal would cause discomfort to bus crew especially bus drivers.

The size of the boards will have to be increased significantly for accommodating route details in three languages. Increasing the size of the boards in turn may cause visual obstruction to the drivers. Most of the buses had bilingual boards, said P.B. Satyan, president of the All Kerala Private Bus Operators Federation.

Mr. Satyan, who owns five buses, contended that most of the neighbouring States were refusing to display boards even in English. It would not be a viable proposal to have boards in multiple languages for catering to the needs of various segments of population, he said.

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