By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Perhaps the most famous landmark in Rio, the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) statue, will be open 24-hours during the World Youth Day (WYD) week from July 23rd-28th, after a trial period of night-time hours which started in May. There is also a new system of transportation being launched to accommodate the 2.5 million expected WYD pilgrims.
The new and expanded transportation plan created by the city offers three ways to find the way up to Cristo: the train, official vans or by car/taxi.
The Corcovado train, previously the only public transport to Cristo, is located in Cosme Velho and usually leaves every twenty minutes. During the WYD however, it will be running non-stop and is expected to transport the majority of the pilgrims to the city’s famous icon.
A new online-only ticketing system has been introduced and tourists are required to buy their tickets in advance on the train’s website. The ticketing booth at the train station has been closed for sale and will only exchange the internet vouchers. Tickets cost R$46 (US$20 with today’s exchange rate).
In addition to the train a special van service has been launched to transport visitors directly from the Largo do Machado metro (subway) stop in Catete to Corcovado. Normally, the vans depart every fifteen minutes and can carry up to fifteen passengers.
The van fleet consists of twenty vehicles, and for the dates of the WYD, it will be upgraded to sixty vans, which will depart every other minute. The ticket booth at Largo do Machado will operate until 1AM and the vans will drive as long as there are passengers to transport back.
At the ticket booth, tickets can only be bought for the present day and cost R$45 per person. Eduardo Guimarães, coordinator at Largo do Machado, told The Rio Times he expects 20,000 people per day to board the vans during WYD, so people should expect to stand in line for some time.
He supports the new transport system, explaining, “I think the situation has improved with the new vans. There is no more chaos up at the train station, they helped to impede illegal vans transporting tourists and offer a legal and easy way to travel to Cristo.”
Mr. Guimarães also shared that there will be new ticket booths opening soon, probably in Copacabana and Lagoa.
It is still possible to drive up the road by car or with a taxi until Paineiras point at the entrance to the landmark, where passengers change into Corcovado’s vehicles for the very last bit to the statue. Even for this though tickets need to be purchased in advance at Ingresso rapido and cost R$27.
It is expected that tickets for all of these different transportation options will sell out at some point during WYD. Train tickets are already scarce for Monday July 22nd, as well as the morning of Tuesday, July 23rd.
Despite the crowds, many feel visiting Cristo is a must. “Coming to Rio and not getting to know Cristo, is not coming to Rio,” Melissa Bianco, a Rio resident with Peruvian roots who just recently visited the site, explains.
“Visiting Cristo is magnificent.(…) The statue impresses not only because of its size and strategic location, allowing it to be seen for almost everywhere in Rio, but also as a symbol of protection and welcome. (…) And the view! From up there you can see all of Rio in 360 degrees,” she described.