By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – For everyone that commutes to-and-from Niterói on a regular basis, some welcome news was announced that goes against the trend of price hikes and inflation in Brazil. According to government reports yesterday (May 18th), the toll on the Rio-Niterói bridge will fall from R$5.20 to R$3.70 starting on June 1st.
The figure was released during the signature of the new concession contract with EcoRodovias Infraestrutura e Logística SA, auctioned in March by the National Land Transportation Agency (ANTT), which will cover the next thirty years.
Just last July (2014) the ANTT authorized a six percent increase in the toll cost of Rio-Niterói bridge, which came into effect August 1, 2014. For passenger cars, the rate had increased from R$4.90 to R$5.20.
Across Guanabara Bay, Niterói is home to around 500,000 residents, many of whom do the commute across the often congested Rio-Niterói bridge twice a day. As those who make the trip during rush-hour know, it can take hours just to get from central Rio to central Niterói.
The contract signed yesterday replaces the current concession, with company CCR, who ran the bridge since 1995. The concession agreement provides for investments of R$3.3 billion in operation and works. Among the infrastructure improvements mandated by the government are the construction of the Port Avenue, a connection handle with the Linha Vermelha (Red Line) and an underpass in Niterói to separate local traffic of vehicles coming across the bridge.
EcoRodovias Infraestrutura e Logística SA won the auction with a R$3.2844 toll rate bid, a major discount of 36.7 percent compared to the price of the ceiling provided. According to the Ministry of Transport, the difference between the auction result and the amount released yesterday is due to the projection of the variation of the Broad Consumer Price Index (IPCA) – which measures official inflation – since the contract bid date in January 2014.