Over the last 20 years in Lima, a mechanism for self-organization of the public transit system has emerged. The buses and microbuses follow no schedule. Instead, self-employed Data Guys (Dateros, in Spanish) monitor the buses from different lines. They register the times at which the buses cross their point, and sell this information to the co-pilots of the buses for around $0.10, ten cents of dollar. The Data Guys also monitor whether the buses are full, half-full or empty.
Thanks to this information, each bus driver can evaluate whether he is late or early, and based on that evaluation he chooses his speed and timing for the way forward. If he is late, he may be surpassed by the next bus, and the next bus will get the passengers that are waiting for his bus. If he is too early, he will not find enough passengers to fill his bus. So, he has to pay attention to this information in order to maximize his passengers. This mechanism of self-control began in Lima in the 1990s, then it propagated to other cities in Peru, and now (according to the Data Guy) it is also being applied in Chile and Colombia.
The system is not perfect. Sometimes two buses engage in real races in the streets, competing for passengers. These races increase the risk for passengers, for other cars and for pedestrians. However, most bus-drivers find this system more adaptable than the rigid schedules defined by the city.
Photo and post by Sebastiao Ferreira. This post is number 4 of 52 in Sebastiao’s 52-week photo journal.