By Ana Gabriela Ribeiro, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Since opening in 2009, the General Osório Metro station (the last stop of Line 1) in Ipanema has increased the accessibility to the area, connecting Praça General Osório with Copacabana Cantagalo Metro stop. However, due to further expansion of the new Metro Line 4, extending to Barra da Tijuca, the stations will close for eight months starting in December 2012.
According to MetroRio company, press attaché, Andrea Uchoa, FBS Comunicaçoes, says that they will make sure to minimize distress for commuters.
The plan is for both General Osório and Cantagalo stations to be connected by a walking tunnel to the Siqueira Campos station in Copacabana, which will temporarily be the last Line 1 Metro train stop. In addition to the walking tunnel, increased Metro Buses will help commuters during the construction period.
Uchoa clarifies: “To ensure the connection … it will be necessary to construct a interlink tunnel between Cantagalo and General Osório station. The four minutes minimum interval between “Metrô na superficie” buses, will be reduced to three minutes, and the vehicle fleet will increase from fifteen to 23 vehicles” she says.
However, some residents have voice concerns on that matter. Dayse Daiane, who has lived in Ipanema since the opening of metro station, says “It is a shame, that they haven’t planned this before the Olympic Games, now, it will be a bit messy.”
She explains: “I normally take thirty minutes to arrive at Tijuca every day, as a house call esthetician, I have clients all along the Line 1 [Metro], now I will have to be careful with planning my appointments, if I will have to take a bus.”
As for Patricia Santos, a domestic worker in Ipanema that lives in Nova Iguaçu, she will have problems specially returning home. “In the mornings I get a non-licensed bus, ‘onibus pirata’ that takes me here and it is direct, so I arrive faster.”
However Santos explains the return trip is more complicated, “I am scared of the traffic, because I have to go from General Osório Station to Central Metro Station then get the train to estaçao Japeri [Japeri Metro station] and finally a bus to Nova Iguaçu center. It sometimes takes three hours.” she says.
For Everline Pelucho, a clothing store manager in Ipanema that lives in Tijuca, Zona Norte (North Zone), near the Saens Pena Metro station, thinks that this will complicate her life a lot.
“Having to get a bus from Siqueira Campos or even having to walk a long corridor will take more time. Before the Metro I used to take one hour and twenty minutes to arrive at Ipanema, now with the Metro, it only takes 35 minutes, and with more buses, there will be more traffic,” she says.
With the Metro station closures still nine months away, residents and commuters will have time to prepare contingency plans, but there is already a sense of frustration. In the long-term though, the new Line 4 will carry more than 300,000 people per day, and is expected to remove approximately 2,000 vehicles from the roadways during peak hour.