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By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Saturday, July 30th, Interim President Michel Temer, along with Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes, and other government and Olympic officials inaugurated the long-anticipated, and long-delayed, Metro Line 4 subway, which will connect Ipanema and Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone) to Barra da Tijuca.

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Interim President Michel Temer on the Metro Line 4’s maiden voyage from Jardim Oceânico station in Barra da Tijuca, photo by Beto Barata/Agência Brasil.

The new metro line is set to begin operating today (Monday, August 1st), but until August 4th its use will be limited to only passengers holding credentials for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Beginning on August 5th, ridership will expand to include Olympic RioCard holders with tickets for that day’s Olympic events.

At Saturday’s opening ceremony at the Jardim Oceânico station in Barra, interim President Michel Temer and Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president, Thomas Bach, were joined by Rio de Janeiro State Governor Luis Fernando Pezao, in a rare public appearance since beginning treatment for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in March.

“I have closely followed all the works that are taking place in Rio de Janeiro and it’s with great joy that I see them being done with the general population in mind,” said an excited Acting President Temer. “With Line 4 in service, a worker who at the moment takes two hours to get home will now only take just 30 minutes.”

Officials estimate that the trip between Jardim Oceânico in Barra and Nossa Senhora da Paz in Ipanema will take thirteen minutes. From Jardim Oceânico to Carioca station in Centro, the trip is estimated at 34 minutes. “I have a feeling of accomplishment,” exclaimed Mayor Paes. “The city’s mobility has increased six-fold in as many years. It’s a fantastic transformation that only became possible thanks to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

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Officials estimate that the five-station 16-km trip between Jardim Oceânico in Barra and Nossa Senhora da Paz in Ipanema, will take thirteen minutes, photo by Beto Barata/Agência Brasil.

Almost two decades in the making, the contract to build Metro Line 4 was first awarded back in 1998 to the Rio Barra SA consortium. After years of bureaucratic red tape, ownership changes within Rio Barra, and changes to the line’s original plans resulting from Rio’s successful Olympic bid, the first Line 4 tracks were not laid until June 2014.

At the time, government officials had targeted January 2016 for the project’s completion, well before the start of the 2016 Rio Olympics. Within a year it became clear that not only would the project not be completed by that date, the pledged opening in time for the Games was in jeopardy.

The Brazilian federal government was forced to step in with US$2.9 billion of emergency aid so that the state could count on the Line’s opening by August 1st, a mere four days before the start of the Olympics.

From August 5th to 21st, Metro Line 4 will be operating from 6AM to 1AM during the week including Saturdays, and 7AM to 1AM on Sundays and holidays. On August 5th and 21st, Line 4 will operate extended hours, until 2AM, to accommodate the Olympics opening and closing ceremonies.

During the Olympic and Paralympic period, from August 5th to September 18th, only Olympic RioCard holders and ticket holders for that day’s Olympic events will be able to use the Metro Line 4. The line will finally open to the general public on September 19th. By the end of 2016, three hundred thousand people a day are expected to ride the new line.

The sixteen km long Metro Line 4 features five new stations: Jardim Oceânico, São Conrado/Rocinha, Antero de Quental, Jardim de Alah, and Nossa Senhora da Paz, which connect with Ipanema’s General Osorio station that was opened in 2009.

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