By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With the Corpus Christi holiday on Thursday, May 26th, most Brazilians will take this opportunity to travel out of town to enjoy a four-day weekend. In São Paulo, one of the biggest cities in the world, the roads and transportation system are expected to reach maximum capacity as many of its eleven million inhabitants attempt to leave town during the extended holiday.
According to the São Paulo State Department of Transportation (ARTESP), more than two million vehicles will leave the metropolitan area of São Paulo beginning Thursday, May 26th. They estimate that some 1.8 million cars will pass through the roads leading to the interior and northern coast, with another 265,000 going south towards the Port of Santos.
Authorities say Traffic will begin to intensify in two phases, first, today, Wednesday, May 25th, between 3PM and 10PM, then again early tomorrow morning. Traffic is also then expected to intensify on Sunday, May 26th, from 2PM to 10PM.
To deal with the rush, highway police will be evaluating traffic flow and will close and open certain lanes of the Anchieta-Imigrantes highway, the main highway link between the metropolitan region of São Paulo and Santos, and the Anhanguera-Bandeirantes highway, connecting São Paulo and Campinas region, to regulate the flow in both directions.
The Department of Transportation is also advising motorists to be alert to the possibility of fog. In the case of low visibility (below 100 meters), the highway police will implement Operação Comboio, a measure to reduce the speed of all vehicles during this time.
During the holiday, the São Paulo public transit system is also bracing for the holiday rush. The bus terminals are expected to have some 658,000 passengers during the four-day weekend. In preparations, extra buses will be made available to popular destinations such as Curitiba, Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro and the São Paulo coast.
Transportation agencies recommend to purchase tickets in advance, and to arrive at least an hour before boarding, to have time to check in baggage. They also remind those who are traveling with children, that any child under twelve who is not accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, must have a notarized documented from the parent or guardian permitting such travel.
Of course, São Paulo’s roads and transit system reaching their max, will also be felt in Rio de Janeiro. As Ipanema resident, Kathia Okada, told The Rio Times, “I won’t leave Rio till Friday morning to hopefully avoid all the traffic on Thursday.”