| Andrew Cooke | Contents | Latest | RSS | Twitter | Previous | Next

C[omp]ute

Welcome to my blog, which was once a mailing list of the same name and is still generated by mail. Please reply via the "comment" links.

Always interested in offers/projects/new ideas. Eclectic experience in fields like: numerical computing; Python web; Java enterprise; functional languages; GPGPU; SQL databases; etc. Based in Santiago, Chile; telecommute worldwide. CV; email.

Personal Projects

Lepl parser for Python.

Colorless Green.

Photography around Santiago.

SVG experiment.

Professional Portfolio

Calibration of seismometers.

Data access via web services.

Cache rewrite.

Extending OpenSSH.

C-ORM: docs, API.

Last 100 entries

UNUMS (Universal Number Format); MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses); Interesting Looking Game; Euler's Theorem for Polynomials; Weeks 3-6; Reddit Comment; Differential Cryptanalysis For Dummies; Japanese Graphic Design; Books To Be Re-Read; And Today I Learned Bugs Need Clear Examples; Factoring a 67 bit prime in your head; Islamic Geometric Art; Useful Julia Backtraces from Tasks; Nothing, however, is lost with less discomfort than that which, when lost, cannot be missed; Article on Didion; Cost of Living by City; British Slavery; Derrida on Metaphor; African SciFi; Traits in Julia; Alternative Japanese Lit; Pulic Key as Address (Snow); Why Information Grows; The Blindness Of The Chilean Elite; Some Victoriagate Links; This Is Why I Left StackOverflow; New TLS Implementation; Maths for Physicists; How I Am 8; 1000 Word Philosophy; Cyberpunk Reading List; Detailed Discussion of Message Dispatch in ParserCombinator Library for Julia; FizzBuzz in Julia w Dependent Types; kokko - Design Shop in Osaka; Summary of Greece, Currently; LLVM and GPUs; See Also; Schoolgirl Groyps (Maths); Japanese Lit; Another Example - Modular Arithmetic; Music from United; Python 2 and 3 compatible alternative.; Read Agatha Christie for the Plot; A Constructive Look at TempleOS; Music Thread w Many Recommendations; Fixed Version; A Useful Julia Macro To Define Equality And Hash; k3b cdrom access, OpenSuse 13.1; Week 2; From outside, the UK looks less than stellar; Huge Fonts in VirtualBox; Keen - Complex Emergencies; The Fallen of World War II; Some Spanish Fiction; Calling C From Fortran 95; Bjork DJ Set; Z3 Example With Python; Week 1; Useful Guide To Starting With IJulia; UK Election + Media; Review: Reinventing Organizations; Inline Assembly With Julia / LLVM; Against the definition of types; Dumb Crypto Paper; The Search For Quasi-Periodicity...; Is There An Alternative To Processing?; CARDIAC (CARDboard Illustrative Aid to Computation); The Bolivian Case Against Chile At The Hague; Clear, Cogent Economic Arguments For Immigration; A Program To Say If I Am Working; Decent Cards For Ill People; New Photo; Luksic And Barrick Gold; President Bachelet's Speech; Baltimore Primer; libxml2 Parsing Stream; configure.ac Recipe For Library Path; The Davalos Affair For Idiots; Not The Onion: Google Fireside Chat w Kissinger; Bicycle Wheels, Inertia, and Energy; Another Tax Fraud; Google's Borg; A Verion That Redirects To Local HTTP Server; Spanish Accents For Idiots; Aluminium Cans; Advice on Spray Painting; Female View of Online Chat From a Male; UX Reading List; S4 Subgroups - Geometric Interpretation; Fucking Email; The SQM Affair For Idiots; Using Kolmogorov Complexity; Oblique Strategies in bash; Curses Tools; Markov Chain Monte Carlo Without all the Bullshit; Email Para Matias Godoy Mercado; The Penta Affair For Idiots; Example Code To Create numpy Array in C; Good Article on Bias in Graphic Design (NYTimes); Do You Backup github?; Data Mining Books

© 2006-2015 Andrew Cooke (site) / post authors (content).

Santiago Buses (TranSantiago)

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2007 09:21:41 -0400 (CLT)

I don't know if I've ever mentioned it here, but one of the things that
most impressed me when I arrived in Chile was the public transport system,
particularly the buses (the other is the tax system!).

Santiago was full of yellow buses, hurtling around, which would get you
almost anywhere - quickly and cheaply (if there were sacrifices they
tended to be in comfort and what you might call "quality of service" -
whether the driver slams on the brakes while you're walking to the door,
sending you flying down the aisle...).

The impression they gave was one of chaos and emergent order.  People
("los sapos" - frogs) would stand at busy junctions making note of when
buses passed, advising drivers when to speed up or slow down so that they
would find more passengers.  These people were not "official" in any
sense, but paid by the drivers themselves, handing out coins as they
passed.

There appeared to be many companies involved and it was not unusual to
find yourself on a bus owned by the driver - this would be clear by from
the extra decorations, pictures of saints, red leather, flashing lights,
etc etc.  Each company had its own style of tickets (I wonder if anyone
collected those) and the price, while nominally (and legally) fixed, could
be negotiated with the driver

This has all changed.

The government has introduced a new, integrated, system.  The theoretical
advantages are clear enough: a single, automatic payment system allowing
transfers (prepaid cards - there are interesting issues about how
distributed data are handled which I do not understand, but that is
another story) and a passenger flow designed to move customers onto the
metro (underground trains) for faster transport over long distances. 
Buses are now used mainly as feeders for the metro or to provide
complementary (not duplicate) routes.  The change was also a chance to
introduce new buses and remove the most ramshackle and dangerous ones.

From the bus companies' point of view this was also a chance, I think, to
squeeze out the independent operators (typically owner-run buses were
older) and to guarantee a fixed price from everyone (no deals with the
driver at the expense of the company) and reduce competition.

It has been a disaster and is becoming a political scandal.

There are huge queues during the rush hour at various places.  The metro
is so crowded that medical advice is being given to restrict certain
people (old, pregnant etc) from travelling at peak hours.  There have been
riots on the outskirts of the city as people vent their frustration.

To some extent it was obvious that the system was going to fail.  Anyone
who has lived in Europe knows that "good" public transport (not just
efficient, but regular, clean, polite, controlled) requires a level of
funding beyond chilean means, and that without that funding service will
suffer (incidentally, I am reading an excellent book on the history of
economics at the moment - I'll post a review when I finish - Machine
Dreams Become a Cyborg Science).

In addition, Chileans always said that the bus companies were "a mafia",
and the government here - which has been in power for way, way too long,
is complacent and increasingly corrupt.  So any agreement between the two
was going to reduce competition.

So, if failure was so predictable (and it really was - I had many
conversations with Chileans, urging them to leave the system alone) why
did it happen?

There's a very simple, clear reason.

The generation in power grew up with the old, yellow buses.  At a time
when there was a law giving them lower prices.  So every time school
opened or closed, buses were full of children (paying little).  Over time
it seems that this turned into institutionalized warfare.  Buses would not
stop for school children.  A friend of mine recounts how he was beaten by
a driver.

The generation in power hates the buses.

It's that simple.  It's Pavlovian - a deep, instinctive dislike.  And
completely understandable.  Unfortunately, it made "TranSantiago"
possible.

http://www.transantiago.cl/

Andrew

Comment on this post