By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – With the VLT construction in Centro taking a step ahead, main street Avenida Rio Branco has become a one way street in direction of the Aterro in Flamengo with only two open lanes. The street will be bus-only and therefore blocked for cars from Monday to Friday from 5AM to 9PM and on Saturday from 5AM to 3PM.
With these changes in traffic, 53 bus lines have changed their stops in Centro. Most buses have changed their routes to Avenida Presidente Antônio Carlos and Rua Primeiro de Março when driving in direction of the Candelária church. In direction of Flamengo, they drive along the two remaining lanes on Rio Branco.
A full list of the lines that are affected, including a map of the new stops, can be found here. On Sunday, traffic should run normally.
Yesterday (December 1st) was the first day of the week of the new scheme and traffic was reportedly running smoothly. However, several people complained that buses ran the stops, as too many vehicles were already standing there.
Cars that enter Avenida Rio Branco during its blockage hours will only be fined starting next week, as this week will serve to inform about the changes. The VLT will connect the Port Zone with Santos Dumont Airport. It will receive six different lines with 42 stops and run around 28 kilometers.
The estimated cost of the VLT’s six lines is R$1.157 billion, with R$625 million supplied by Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and the remaining R$532 million coming from federal funds and the government’s growth acceleration program, better known as PAC (Aceleração do Crescimento). Completion of the work on the VLT lines is scheduled for 2016 before the Olympics and Paralympics games begin in the city.