The Brazilian Way
The bus system in Curitiba is famous for being the first Rede Integrada de Transporte (RIT) system in Brazil, and it’s still considered the best in the country, with approximately one third of Curitibanos using it every day to go to work. However, not every city has such an efficient system, and citizens in Porto Alegre, the capital city of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, have started a public initiative to improve their bus system by using creative problem solving we refer to as “the Brazilian way” (jeitinho brasiliero). Here’s how they did it:
Bus stops in Porto Alegre don’t list which buses come to each stop. If residents are unfamiliar with an area, they typically have few resources to help them figure out what buses will get them to where they need to go. This naturally leads to confusion and frustration.
At least that was until a few savvy Porto Alegre residents stepped in. Que Ônibus Passa Aqui? (Which Bus Stops Here?) is an initiative started in Porto Alegre by residents who were tired of getting lost on the wrong buses. At first, they started with just pens and markers. Locals who knew the bus routes would write down which buses came to each respective stop, writing the information on the signs themselves.
Soon the idea caught on, spreading all over the city and captured the attention of a graphic design company. The company began manufacturing signs that read Que Ônibus Passa Aqui?, which provided a practical and aesthetically pleasing way for residents to record requisite bus routes.
Noting the effectiveness of the initiative, the Porto Alegre transportation department soon joined the movement by producing sticker packs that contained information about the various bus lines.
Gaining further traction, the initiative created a Facebook presence, produced a good-looking video, and created a form that could be downloaded via the project’s website. Today, the signs can be seen in cities across the country, and it’s continuing to gain momentum.
What started with simply a pen in hand has evolved into an example of what collaboration between residents, businesses, and administrative entities can do. Add a good social media strategy to the mix and the potential increases exponentially.
We’re each aware of the issues facing the places we inhabit, so it’s encouraging to see that actions by individuals can influence a nation. Though its long term impact is yet to be seen, “Which Bus Stops Here?” is a potential model for the type of grassroots problem-solving that can help our cities become a bit more friendly to their residents.
[This article was written by Njaimeh Njie and appeared on the Urbanful website. It was edited by CIE. Images courtesy of Que Ônibus Passa Aqui?]