By Samindra Kunti, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As Rio continues to develop and implement its transportation plan of BRT (Rapid Bus Transit) in a bid to better its infrastructure prior to hosting the 2016 Olympics, some reports of poor services and a series of deadly accidents have continued to raise questions about the operational efficiency of the Transoeste line.
With 56 kilometer and an investment of R$985 million, the Transoeste line connects Barra da Tijuca, in the Zona Oeste (West Zone) of the city, to Campo Grande and Santa Cruz. The line was inaugurated in June 2012 and forms part of Rio´s plan to increase the use of high capacity transport from eighteen percent to over sixty percent by 2016 with a four-lane BRT system.
Carioca model, Mariana Villanova, lives in Campo Grande but is often working in in the city and tells The Rio Times the commute is now much faster to Barra da Tijuca. Yet to get to Zona Sul (South Zone) it often still takes “two hours because of the traffic in Rocinha and Gavea, [but] in my opinion it is safer than the other buses and also cleaner inside too.”
The Transoeste line is however facing scrutiny after various problems surfaced recently: commuters complained of overcrowding and unsatisfactory services during peak hours, in particular at the Santa Cruz, Magarça and Mato Alto stations.
The asphalted BRT-lane in the vicinity of the Mato Alto station already showed cracks and the ensuing reparation, scheduled to conclude in May, impedes traffic. Carlos Osorio, the secretary of transport of Rio de Janeiro, acknowledges these concerns surrounding the Transoeste line and spoke to The Rio Times.
“Municipal agents established certain imperfections on the Transoeste line. A fine of R$50,000 followed and measures were implemented to ensure excellent services for commuters. No public money will be spend on the reparation of the asphalt as Sanerio, the company responsible for the BRT works, is contractually obliged to bear these costs,” Mr. Osorio explained.
More disturbing though are the deadly accidents BRT-buses have been involved in: last month Therezinha da Silva and Ana Paula dos Santos got fatally hit by a BRT-bus in Barra da Tijuca, ignoring instructions from a police officer. A collision between a BRT-bus and a car in Recreio made a third casualty in March. The overall death toll of the Transoeste line now stands at eight.
Safety and security are paramount according to Carlos Osorio, but he says it is a question of mutual commitment, “These deaths are a very grave concern and the safety of the public is an overriding principle. All is being done to guarantee maximum safety to passengers and other member of the public, but it is also the responsibility of the public to ensure their own safety by abiding with the traffic laws.”
Nonetheless Osorio also deems the Transoeste line a success so far, pointing out that it is already being used by more than 100,000 commuters a day. By 2015, when completed, the Transoeste line will benefit 220,000 people per day.
Meanwhile the sisters of the Transoeste line are also under construction: the Transcarioca will link Barra da Tijuca with Tom Jobim International Airport (GIG), whereas the Transolimpica, set to be delivered in 2015, will connect Deodoro with Barra Da Tujica. The department of transport confirmed that with works progressing rapidly the Transcarioca line will be delivered on time before the start of the 2014 World Cup.