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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for July 28th, 2008

Coffee, cookies but no cashiers

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Globe and Mail

A nice little article to cheer you up on a Monday morning. A cafe in Kitchener. Ontario that relies on the honour system – and why it works.

There are a couple of interesting observations

Experiments that lack the personal touch of a café or restaurant have met with failure: Various efforts over the years to lend out free bicycles in Portland, Ore., Salt Lake City, Charleston, S.C., and other cities resulted in the bikes being stolen or trashed within weeks.

So the fare box on the bus works – there is an operator looking after it. But the SkyTrain – well the tickets only get checked so often. Velib works becuase there is a mandatory deposit – but it works by “reserving” a sum on your credit card. By the way, their bikes do get the sort of rough treatment you must expect in this situation. The baskets seem to get really rough treatment. The chain seems to be vulnerable. And more than one saddle height adjustment lever had been snapped off.

The café’s survival reinforces her belief that people are basically honest. “It makes you feel more that we’re all in this together,” Ms. Freed says.

This actually gives some insight into the minds of those who do not feel this way. A certain small percentage of the population has no conscience. I am not going to get into the discussion of why this is so – nature or nurture and all that. We just have to accept that some people think the rest of the world’s population are suckers who deserve to get screwed. How much effort should we put in to keeping the minority in line? And how much inconvenience and cost should the rest of us bear? There will always be some cheats. And they will cost us something – but it it really worth a heck of a lot more in security to make life more difficult for them?

Written by Stephen Rees

July 28, 2008 at 8:43 am

Posted in Economics