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By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Monday, February 13th, Rio City Hall announced that the VLT’s (Light Rail Vehicle) new line, which connects Saara to Praça XV, will remain free until an unspecified date. Originally, passengers on the new line were to start paying the R$3.80 fee beginning on Monday morning.

Brazil, Brazil News, Rio de Janeiro
The VLT’s new second line will travel through downtown connecting Saara to Praça XV, photo by Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil.

The announcement was made via the government’s VLT twitter account. “ATTENTION! More time to ride for free on the Saara-Praça XV stretch,” said the announcement, which did not specify when the free admission would end.

Passengers have been able to ride the new addition to the VLT line since its unveiling last Monday, February 6th. The new route travels along Rua Sete de Setembro from Praça XV to Saara with two stops in between: Praça Tiradentes, and Colombo, near the popular tourist attraction, Confeitaria Colombo.

“I hope that with this line we can revitalize the entire Saara commerce,” exclaimed Mayor Crivella at the inauguration. “I’m sure it’s going to take a lot of cars and buses off the street, it will improve for passers-by, pedestrians. It’s a great achievement in Rio de Janeiro today,” exclaimed the Mayor.

Significantly, the Praça XV stop is expected to greatly benefit the throngs of travelers who enter Rio’s Centro neighborhood by ferry, namely from Niterói, Cocotá and Ilha de Paquetá. Government sources have revealed that Mayor Crivella is working with local officials to design an integrated fare that will include both the ferry and the VLT.

Currently, VLT passengers can transfer between the new Saara-Praça XV line and the already existing line for free up to one hour. In addition, via the Single Ticket Carioca, passengers may transfer between the VLT and municipal buses. The new Saara-Praça XV line operates daily from 8AM to 2PM.

Relatedly, government officials from Riotur and CET-Rio also announced on Monday that the VLT will operate normally during Carnival. “For smaller blocos, for example, those in Santo Cristo, there will be temporary interruptions in the movement of the VLT to allow people to cross the road, but the service will not be interrupted,” said CET-Rio Director of Operations, Joaquim Dinis.

“In addition, grids will be placed in some stretches of the VLT, as was done during the Olympics, to avoid traffic on the rails, generating more security for those who are on the streets of downtown Rio,” added Dinis.

The first VLT line was unveiled in Centro on June 6th, just before the Rio 2016 Olympics, after several delays. The project was a pivotal piece of the revitalization of Porto Maravilha in downtown Rio in preparation for the 2016 Olympics.

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