Poor Mass Transit Costs Brazil R$90B: Daily

Brazil's inadequate public transportation offerings could equal production losses of R$90 billion per year.

By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – After the recent derailment of a Rio de Janeiro train briefly brought the city to a halt and with renewed protests against the upcoming World Cup and government expenditures on stadiums instead of on public services like transportation, Brazil’s subways and train systems are once again in the spotlight.

Rio metro problems, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

Rio’s metro service left thousands stranded outside stations like Carioca in Centro, pictures above, during the World Youth Day celebrations in 2013, photo by Tânia Rêgo/ABr.

On Sunday, O Globo’s Fantástico television show reported that time spent in daily transit to and from work on public transportation systems throughout the country could be costing up to R$90 billion per year in lost productivity. This figure is equivalent to 2.5 percent of Brazil’s gross domestic product (GDP) per year.

Studying the nine largest cities in Brazil, Fantástico found that nearly sixteen million workers rely on public transportation to get to work. Those people spend, on average, an hour and a half traveling to and from work on a daily basis.

Ph.D. in industrial engineering, Hélio Mattar, explained his calculations on the show. “If we consider that when the individual commutes between thirty minutes to an hour, there is a loss of 2.5 percent in production and when they are in transit for more than an hour, they have a five percent loss in production. You can then calculate how much production we are losing, which is R$90 billion, equal to 2.5 percent of Brazil’s GDP per year,” he said.

Problems within the public transportation system were also cited as a cause of lost productivity. Overcrowding in cars, poor information systems, shoving, pushing and poor organization getting into the buses and through the stations are the bane of commuters.

When asked what was more tiring between work and his long daily commute by Fantástico, worker Alexandro dos Santos had one answer: “Commuting, you arrive at the company already tired, right?”

As the FIFA 2014 World Cup draws closer, while some are focused on the readiness of stadiums, the availability of hotels and flights between host cities, there are also those who fear a return of the Rio’s severe metro problems experienced during World Youth Day (WYD) on July 23rd and 24th of last year. During those days, commuters and visitors to the city were left stranded as both metro lines ground to a halt for hours.

Read more (in Portuguese).

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