Services place their trust in Cariocas

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Data shows that honesty is still growing among cariocas

In gloomy times, plagued by corruption and serial political scandals, honesty, so discredited, endures in the day to day of the city. Contrary to even the non-believers, it’s possible to see evidence everywhere that having a good character is on the up and up. From services such as the VLT, which did away with the fare collector and depends on the awareness of the users, the newly established self-service registers in department stores, always with dilettante customers making the payment, Rio is still able to teach lessons of citizenship.

With the modern streetcar, the evasion rate – that is, of passengers who get on and off without paying, ignoring the rules of civility – doesn’t hit 10%, according to the concessionaire responsible for transportation, going against all expectations that vandalism and slyness would prevail. With the establishment of cash registers operated by customers, almost nobody leaves without paying, to the surprise of those who didn’t believe that it’s possible to adopt here a common system of the world’s great metropolises.

In 2015, when it was announced that VLT passengers would be responsible for paying fares upon entering the vehicle, the news was practically treated as a joke. But, after two years, the fact is that 90% of the passengers behave as they do what’s customary, religiously paying the R$3.80 fare. The percentage is even higher than what’s been registered in European cities, according to the consortium that operates the streetcar that already cuts across the center of Rio. The VLT’s honesty “inspectors”, who do random checks, attest that it’s rare to catch a bad payer in the act.

The most common thing, they argue, is to watch passengers, as they embark, go straight with their RioCards towards the fare validators. Inspector Bruno Teixeira Campo says that, by day, he sends at most one passenger to the police to be fined for evasion. He also says it’s normal for savvy users to alert others who use VLT sporadically on how to validate tickets on the machine. And those who fall into the fine mesh of inspection usually get embarrassed and make feeble excuses.

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“Those in a hurry claim that they forgot to validate the card, that they didn’t know they had to have a ticket when they boarded or that they saw the VLT at the stop and, in a hurry, they got on without reloading the RioCard. There are also those who talk on the cell phone and say they were distracted. But in general, as a Carioca, he is proud to see that almost everyone does the right thing,” Bruno observes.

VLT Director of Operations Paulo Ferreira says that, even on European systems, the evasion rate can surpass 40%. In the VLT contract, a 30% rate was forecast. But the rate never got so high. At the start of the operation, it was close to 15%. And, since then, it’s just been falling. This can be understood from the convergence of data from the validation machines and the passenger counts done by cameras installed at the vehicle doors.

“But it’s still not possible to remove the inspectors from the operation”, says Ferreira, without ruling out the possibility of an even more civilized future, with total mutual trust between the operator and passengers.

The anthropologist Alba Zaluar says that the phenomenon doesn’t surprise her, despite the whole reality of corruption that haunts Brazil. She calls attention to what she considers discrimination against Cariocas, said to be mischievous. She says that, despite this collective value judgment, very few people try to take advantage of everything.

“The population is very outraged. I see people proud to differentiate themselves from those who are robbing the country, to say that they work and live honestly, without deceiving anyone. Even because trust is the basis of all the movements of society – analyzes the scholar.

From September 5 to September 30 2016, the police counted 8,970 fines imposed on passengers for non-payment of the VLT fare. February had the highest number of infractions: 950 people. Last September, there was a sharp drop: 521 fines.

New Relations in Commerce

Another service that depends on the goodwill of customers is Bike Rio, which, since 2011, has trusted that rented bikes, after being ridden, will be returned by cyclists. And that is how it has been, nearly all the time. At Rio International Airport, terminal parking managers say that 90% of drivers respect exclusive vacancies for seniors, people with special needs and pregnant women.

In addition, throughout Brazil, public and private libraries are already implementing book-lending systems, in which interested parties lend and return publications on machines with barcode readers. In commerce, establishments began to provide self-service registers, in which customers themselves register their goods and make payment, without any inspection, as it has been for some time in stores in Europe. The system was adopted in some supermarkets in the Zona Sul and, since the beginning of the year, in five Lojas Americanas in Rio and São Paulo. “The solution is practical and allows the customer to carry out the entire purchase process alone. The implementation of this technology contributes to the operational performance of the stores, boosting sales, especially in times of high traffic. In a short time of operation, the self-checkout has been very receptive and represents a relevant portion of store transactions,” says Lojas Americanas.

At the end of last month, a GLOBO team tested one of these terminals at the Shopping RioSul location. People were still staring at the machines, half-disbelieving, and suspicious. I had to line up for the traditional cash registers, but there was no one using self-service. It was enough for the reporter to start paying for his purchases, for two other customers to notice the novelty and to encourage them to use it. Even smaller stores are venturing out. And it’s not just now. In Botafogo, it has been even longer, decades, that a restaurant has no one mediating payments made by customers. The owner of the establishment prefers not to disclose the address, claiming that he chose the method by having a captive clientele. He admits, however, that widespread publicity could jeopardize a model that, without marketing, is working.

“What we do goes against the madness we’ve seen in this country,” the businessman acknowledges.

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Nearby, at UniRio, in Urca, the students are trying out an initiative that has earned the nickname “the little wall of honesty“. In a garden at the Arts and Literature Center, students leave products for sale and go to class. The offer goes from snacks and cakes to sweets and fruit. But no one is watching what happens. If someone is interested in buying, they choose what they want and leave the money. There are reports of stealing, but most behave well. Those unusual cases forced the group to make adaptations, such as creating makeshift coffers where customers deposit notes and coins to prevent any thefts.

“I’ve seen people put paper in place of money. But it’s a minority. Most of it is honest, says Information Systems student Davi Coutinho.

Another university student and actor César Júnior is enthusiastic about the experience:

“The function of the university is also to provoke this reflection and stimulate awareness. Products have fair prices. And behind each of them, there is a job. The ‘little wall’ helps support many students, either to pay for the bus to come here or for class expenses.”

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Downtown, a formal business decided to change its relationship with customers. In the Curto Café, on Menezes Cortes, the prices of goods aren’t fixed, only suggested. And there isn’t a cash register controlling how much each person pays. It’s the customer who makes the payment and takes his change from a pot, on top of a counter. Asked if it’s successful, the entrepreneurs say the establishment has been operating for five years, and they serve 700 to 800 coffees a day. Some pay less than the indicated prices, others pay more. The average balances out the sales.

“I’m surprised at this place. I hope that this concept spreads,” said customer Sueli Afonso.

Source (PT)

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