«Overcrowded Metrô reflects on chaos in public transportation»
Translation: C. Brayton
SÃO PAULO – Scenes of S. Paulo’s overcrowded subway system have caught the attention of the foreign press. Reuters published a series of images of overcrowded trains during peak rush hour, noting that Brazil’s largest city “faces some of the worst gridlock in the world.”
The news agency says that city and its 20 million inhabitants spend up to three hours on a journey of approximately 14 km in the wealthiest neighborhoods and the principal financial center of Brazil.
São Paulo traffic is among the worst in the world, comparable to Bangcok (Thailand), Beijing and Shanghai (China), Cairo (Egytp), Calcutta and Chennai (Índia) and Jacarta (Indonesia).
São Paulo has only 7 km of subway per million inhabitants, while New York, for example, has 45 km. According to the Getúlio Vargas foundation, São Paulo suffers R$ 40 billion per year in lost productivity, that is, value added if transportation time were spent working. With the money lost, it would be possible to build 80 km of subway per year.
The ill effects are divided democratically among corporations, the government and the population. When people wast two to three hours per day in traffic, this means that in the course of a month, they spend at least two or three days in their cars or public transit.
In April, the Estadão showed how overcrowding in the subway system is expanding to the streets. On the Red Line No. 3, passengers wait outside the station for up to 30 minutes before passing through the turnstile for Eastern Zone destinations — the trip between Itaquera and Sé takes 50 minutes, on average.
Enormous lines take over the passageways — all of them open to the elements — and invade the sidewalks. The problem principally affects stations on the route that passes Itaquerão, the stadium of football team Corinthians, where World Cup events will be held next year.
If the situation is already difficult on normal days, the lives of passengers may get even more complicated on June 4, when subway workers are threatening to strike. Together, the Metrô subway and CPTM commuter line transport 7 million riders a day.
Yes, but as the infographic shown above indicates, «chaos» is something of an overused term. Work is underway to open strategically placed stations by the 2014 World Cup deadline — lucky for us here in the Vila Maddá, if true.