By Mary Carroll, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Along with massive infrastructure and transport investments to happen in Rio by the 2016 Olympics, a third of all conventional buses will be taken off the roads according to city authorities. Some 2,900 buses will gradually be withdrawn and certain routes will cease to operate as passengers will be expected to utilize the new transport lines.
Carlos Roberto Osório, the new Secretary for the Department of Transport, told O Globo that the aim of his administration is to streamline Rio’s transport system. They intend to triple (from 19 to 63 percent) the use of high-speed trains, BRT systems and the metro (subway) with a total of six million trips being made daily.
Osório, who has been in office only a week, says that he has made it a personal mission to make commuting a more pleasant experience for the public. This includes announcing improvements of traffic lights and access to special routes for emergency services.
“The bulk of today’s travel is done by conventional buses, with a lot of different routes. That will change radically with the express lines. The change will be gradual, amid much work.”
Over 150 miles of express bus lanes will have a significant impact on the daily commuter, withthe Tranoeste line, between Campo Grande and Santa Cruz, is due to start operating in the first half of 2013.
The department also expects that Transcarioca line – Barra da Tijuca to Taquara – will begin operating in the same period. While the Transolímpico (Barra-Deodoro) and Transbrasil (Deodoro-Aeroporto Santos Dumont) lines are supposed to be ready by December 2015.
In the midst of this grand scale construction – which will include works on the metro, the redevelopment at Maracanã Stadium and the building of Olympic venues – the Department of Transport is going to focus on expanding traffic management technology.
The department is also determined to crackdown on traffic violations which are also affecting the fluidity of traffic. Educational campaigns and law enforcement are the tools that the department intend to employ.
Transport Secretary Osório said: “We will need the understanding of Cariocas, who will have to reassess their habits and review their schedules.”
Osório advises drivers to be more patient and that they too can contribute in minimizing inconvenience for everyone by avoiding trivial infractions that affect the flow of traffic, such as blocking intersections and stopping in areas where it is prohibited.
The high number of infractions is evident in the first ten months of 2012, as statistics show there have already been almost two million traffic offenses in Rio. Half of the violations were due to speeding, according to CET-Rio. On top of that, 300,000 motorists were caught stopping in forbidden places, while 275,000 ignored red lights.
“We want the drivers [to] respect the law. We will not hesitate in fining those who insist on disrespecting it,” says the new secretary. Osório informed that he will use a smartphone, similar to that used by the Municipal Guard, for prosecuting those who are unaware that they are being observed.