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I'm spending some time in Vitória, Brazil, and have been using a bit of the public transportation. The buses, unlike any I've seen in other cities, have an on-board turnstile, where you must pay a cashier before entering the main part of the bus.

However, in front of the turnstile, and behind the driver, there is always a single row of seats--two on each side of the center isle.

I often see people sitting in these seats, and they don't appear to pay, and they later hop off the bus through the front doors.

What are these seats for? Who is permitted to use them, and under what circumstances? Do these passengers not pay, or do they have some sort of privileged access?

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  • 5
    A photo would be great. – gerrit Apr 30 '14 at 14:38
  • @gerrit: I'll see if I can snap one the next time I'm on a bus... without creeping out any passengers. – Flimzy Apr 30 '14 at 14:39
  • This is typical for all metropolitan busses throughout Brazil. However, I'm not aware of a reason that would allow any passenger to exit the bus without eventually going through the turnstile first. – MastaBaba Apr 30 '14 at 20:57
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I confirmed this with a few Brazilians (I'm currently in São Paulo).

Depending on the bus and the bus route, the turnstile might be at the front or a bit more to the back. This is related to whether the bus needs doors for entry on both sides. The turnstile needs to be after the entry door located furthest to the back.

Exit is through one of the back doors, after the turnstile. This means that though there might be seats before the turnstile (for practical reasons), to exit you will have to go through the turnstile and pay.

This does mean that you can exit without paying, but it's also quite possible that what you saw were people paying but not going through the turnstile (perhaps because it was too busy in the back of the bus). Additionally, it seems to me that Brazilians are mostly both fairly diligent with paying for the public transport system and carefree if someone doesn't.

(Furthermore, in some cities, you enter the public buses through the back and leave through the front, reversing the process described above.)

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    So in summary, if I understand: the seats in front of the turnstile are simply there as an "accident" of where the turnstile must be situated, and all passengers are still expected to pay regardless of where they sit. – Flimzy May 5 '14 at 15:08
  • Yes. The location of the turnstile needs to facilitate the location of the entry doors and, with that, the side the bus stops will be on. – MastaBaba May 6 '14 at 13:39
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    Roberto's answer actually has the most precise reason for people exiting through the front door: People 65 years old or more or people with special needs don't need to pay the fare, that's why they hop off through the front door. This answer does not address that. – Boj May 23 '14 at 4:59
  • Ha! My sources didn't tell the whole story. :) What 'special needs' would this be, exactly? Also, I remember in Salvador there were no seats between the entry door and at least some of the turnstiles. But perhaps, there, special needs enter through the other door? – MastaBaba May 23 '14 at 23:03
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The seats with different colors (and the color differ from company to company or city to city), are reserved for elder or pregnant or handicapped people, or people with baby in arms. That's for the whole country, not only Vitória.

Sign in a bus

You may sit there, but you should give your seat if someone in these conditions appear.

In some countries this doesn't exist because people are polite enough to give the regular seat, but it's not the case in Brazil. In fact, some people sit in the reserved seat and really don't care if an elder person appear.

People 65 years old or more or people with special needs don't need to pay the fare, that's why they hop off through the front door. And people who don't pay is normally the people that seat in the front, in these reserved seats, but this is unrelated.

You are free to seat in the reserved seats, nobody will think bad about you, as long as you give it to someone that needs.

The other seats between the driver and the turnstile are regular seats, like any other after the turnstile. Why do they exist? Well... because there's space in the bus to put seats :) See, in some countries the driver will wait for you to pay and accommodate yourself before starting driving, but not in Brazil: a lot of people come into the bus and the driver won't wait for them to pay the fare and accommodate themselves - s/he has to drive, the bus can't stop - so there's the need to have a big space in the bus to fit the people that just entered.

  • I'm quite sure this is not what @Filmzy is asking about. The special needs seats can be before and after the turnstiles. – MastaBaba Apr 30 '14 at 22:00
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    Yes, they are before and after the turnstiles, but first row is normally special seats, and people who don't pay don't go through the turnstile and seat there. Anyway, edited my answer to give more details about the seats between the driver and turnstile. – Roberto May 1 '14 at 1:43
  • Your answer on the seats before the turnstiles confirms what I thought. However, OP does make the point that he sees the people using those seats leave the bus without paying. – MastaBaba May 1 '14 at 13:43
  • I have seen that sign... on seats behind the turnstile. That's not really what I'm asking about, though. – Flimzy May 1 '14 at 17:02
  • that's a reserved seat row. And people who don't pay have to sit there because they can't go through the turnstile. I have said that in my answer! – Roberto May 1 '14 at 20:50
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I'd put it differently. Let's say that there aren't any places to sit between the front door and the turnstile. This way, there is less room for people to stay before paying, which is a process that takes time. If there is a line, people will take longer to get in the bus, and the bus will take longer to be able to close the door and leave. Thus, to make the system better, it is better to leave some room for people to wait before going through the turnstile. If there is room, there could be seats. Which seats? Seats for people that do not pay: elderly, disabled, pregnant women. Other people that take the bus and do not have to pay, such as mailmen and police officers, can use that room before the turnstile as well, bus usually only when the buses aren't crowded.

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