By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The opening of the metro (subway) line that was promised as part of the bid to host the Rio 2016 Olympics, has been delayed quietly yesterday, on Friday, May 14th. New plans have the metro Linha 4 (Line 4) extension connecting Ipanema to Barra da Tijuca opening on August 1st, just four days before the Games start, and only available to event ticket holders, athletes, and official press pass holders.
The State Transportation Secretary, Rodrigo Vieira, gave an interview to RJTV yesterday and also announced that the Metro Line 4 will only be available to the general public after the Paralympics end on September 19th (the Olympics run from August 5th – 21st).
Mr. Vieira explained why the delay was necessary, “Because we are doing, right now, and over the months of June and July, all the necessary tests. They are tests that begin as individual and go to compound tests, the movement of trains. During July, for example, we [circulate] Line 4 trains without passengers, so that all people involved in the new subway line get used to the operation.”
“The day of August 1st, before the Olympics, which begin on the 5th, we will open the special operation of the subway, which will have some conditions. These conditions can be set for a longer train range, and this range has been studied to be compatible with the start of the operation and at the same time would meet the city’s demand at that time, related to the Olympics.”
Just last month officials reported that the new subway line was 93 percent finished and would be ready for use in July. Hampered by delays and increased costs, in December of 2015, Rio signaled the need for an additional R$1 billion from the federal government to complete work in time, and by March, state officials confirmed it would open the month before the mega event.
At the moment there is no confirmed date for Line 4 to be fully operational for the public, according to local new outlet O Dia. Another change in the project is the estimated cost, initially planned at R$5 billion, the the works may now reach a total R$9.7 billion, almost double what was expected.
Authorities say the Metro Line 4 will unite Rio, integrate regions and bring quality of life to thousands of people. The Rio de Janeiro state government’s project is designed to transport more than 300,000 people a day, removing about 2,000 vehicles from the streets during peak rush hour.