By Mike Smith, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The roadways of Rio are getting more congested, increasing travel duration to three times as long as it should be when driving at normal, unimpeded speeds. The State Department of Transportation now reports the average travel speed on Rio’s roads has been slowed to 20km/h (12.4 mph) in the case of private cars, and 17km/h (10 mph) for buses.

Avenue Atlântica by the beachside in Copacabana
Avenue Atlântica by the beachside in Copacabana, photo by Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz Mariordo/Wikimedia Creative Commons License.

The cause, aside from normal population growth may be the economic boom and increase in consumer spending, resulting in an increase of vehicles purchased in Rio from 1.68 million (2001) to 2.47 million this year – 49 percent more.

Last year it was reported the growing middle class has lifted Brazil into the fourth position internationally in terms of auto sales, behind China, the U.S. and Japan, but ahead of Germany.

With consumers buying 3.45 million vehicles in 2010, up 9.8 percent for the same period in 2009, that is almost 10,000 vehicles a day driving out of show rooms across the nation.

The forecast for Rio’s traffic jams, without major changes, is that in ten years the average speed of cars can fall to 16km/h, and by buses to 15km/h (9.3 mph).

An attempt to alleviate Rio’s traffic in the city has been the Bus Rapid System (BRS) corridors, now in place in Centro, Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. Also to help commuters plan their road travel, the city offers a real-time traffic view of many Rio roadways.

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Update is a new feature we are offering to help keep you up-to-date with major news as it happens.


  1. As an expat living in Rio for the last four years. I’ve noticed the increase in traffic. One of the major problems are those little mini vans stopping everywhere and no where. Why not prohibit them? They are a major cause of the problem.


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