By Lacy Edney, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Bus Rapid System (BRS) was implemented on Avenida Presidente Vargas on Tuesday, March 6th in Rio’s Centro district, initially causing crippling traffic congestion. This is the second BRS lane in Centro, the first was put in place last October along Avenida Rio Branco.
The roadway traffic system was created to increase efficiency and decrease transit time up to thirty percent, by designating bus lanes and creating specific stops for BRS buses.
The first few days after the BRS system went into effect, there were huge lines of buses stretching the length of the avenue during several parts of the day. Because the center lanes have been designated exclusively for BRS buses, motorists struggled to adapt.
Municipal Secretary of Transportation Alexandre Sansão told the press that it was due to an increase in car volume, and was not related to the implementation of the BRS system. He stated that the first week or so is all about adjustments and that a concrete assessment of the BRS system cannot be made until after this adjustment period.
Mr. Sansão went on to describe that bus drivers were still getting used to the new system. Some drivers thought they could still use any of the bus stops, which is no longer possible. These initial doubts have been causing some delays, but these “quirks” will get worked out of the system to ensure that traffic in Centro will begin to decrease in the next few days.
During this adjustment period, there are mixed responses from commuters. For some, transit time has decreased, for others it has increased. English teacher Kim Dumo said, “It used to take me about 25 minutes to get to center in the afternoon before rush hour, now it takes me about 45 minutes.”
Many have been confused as to where they can board and disembark, as it requires learning which stops correspond to which bus numbers. There have also been some complaints about the distance between the bus stops, and a lack of information about the alterations in bus stops and routes.
Despite delays and mixed responses, as of last Friday the traffic on Avenida Presidente Vargas appeared to be moving normally without major delays.
In February last year Copacabana received the first BRS system with reported success along Nossa Senhora de Copacabana, as well as in Ipanema and Leblon receiving the system in August.
This is one step further in Fetranspor’s transportation improvements for Rio de Janeiro. More BRS systems are on the way, followed by Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems.
These BRT buses will provide faster transport because of segregated lanes and passengers boarding at BRT stations where tickets will be bought in advance. By the 2016 Olympics, there will be four BRT’s: TransOeste, Transcarioca, Trans Olímpica, and Avenida Brasil. The first of which, TransOeste, is schedule to open later this year.