By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On the first two days of Rio de Janeiro’s World Youth Day (WYD) on July 23rd and 24th, the city’s metro experienced severe problems, leaving traveling pilgrims stranded. These interruptions are the latest problems in a string of incidents of public transportation in Rio.

Problems on Rio's Metro During WYD, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Disruptions to Rio’s metro service left thousands of pilgrims stranded outside stations like Carioca in Centro, above, in the last two days, photo by Tânia Rêgo/ABr.

In the hours ahead of the WYD’s opening ceremony in Copacabana on Tuesday, July 23rd a defective energy cable in Uruguaiana station in Centro led both metro lines to halt for more than two hours. Subsequently, chaos broke out in and around the station, as travelers searched for alternative transportation methods.

According reports in O Globo, some passengers were left confined inside the station and broke a security room glass door out of anger and frustration. Others began to feel unwell and were carried out of the train by firemen.

Many foreign pilgrims were lost and stranded when the metro halted operations, as they tried to find ways to attend the opening ceremony in Copacabana. Information at stations was reportedly only provided in Portuguese and Spanish.

Fellow metro passengers attempted to show tourists how to take buses in Rio, a challenging task since Rio’s bus stops usually do not feature route maps. The unusually cold and rainy weather in Rio did not help the situation.

Less than 24 hours later, the metro experienced new problems when a train stopped at Central station because of a technical problem. The disruption did not lead to further delays. Joubert Flôres, the engineering director of the metro’s operator, apologized for the chaos on Wednesday, July 24th.

“We have to apologize for what happened, but it was an unforeseen incident. It involved a cable that was being installed(…)There was a little outage, and to remove the cable, it was necessary to shut down the entire system,” he explained.

This latest incident shows that the city and its infrastructure leave some room for improvements in preparation for the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. The disruption of service on Rio’s metro service at a critical time this week are part of recent problems with the city’s transportation system, such as bus accidents, BRT service problems and airport shutdowns.

Read more (in Portuguese).

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