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São Paulo | Mass Transit Probed

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CPI of Mass Transit Takes First Deposition

Source: Agencia Brasil

By: Marli Moreira

São Paulo — In its third meeting, the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry into Mass Transit (CPI) of the São Paulo city legislature took the  first deposition in its attempt to clarify the composition of public transport pricing in São Paulo.

During the session, which began in the early afternoon, the director of finance of SPTrans, Adauto Farias, explained to councilmembers that the value paid by the city government as subsidies has grown thanks to social benefits.

“This policy is good for the city, but it comes at a cost,” he said. Farias said that the integrated ticket, which allows riders to circulate freely on buses and then transfer to subway and commuter rail lines, together with the free fare conceded to the elderly and the half-fare paid by students, have played a role in the system’s decreasing income.

In this situation, Farias said, the city had to raise fares in order to correct the financial imbalance  with service providers in the mass transit system. According to SPTrans, in 2012, the system took in  R$ 953 million.

CPI member Milton Leite (DEM) complained of the lack of time needed to absorb the large volume of information contained in the cost tables handed over to the CPI.

The CPI, presided by Paulo Fiorilo (PT), has 120 days conclude its work. According to its schedule, it will hear next month from  the directors of the metro rail train system, CPTM, the bus authority,  EMTU and the Metrô subway system.

The CPI is a considerable achievement of the protest movement that resuscitated the old Tarifa Zero — 100% subsidy of public transportation –proposal of the early 1990s.

Somewhere here I have a table comparing levels of subsidy among major cities — Paris, I think, was the most generous with its public funds in this area.

Unlike most Brazilian CPIs, especially at the municipal level, this one seems to be on target to uncover the same sorts of cartel creation and fraud that have cropped up in state mass transit contracts.  It would be curious if they did not. I read recently about a money-laundering scheme involving a series of phantom bus lines created as front,s in order to bleed the contract dry without performing the service.

Critics have faulted the CPI already for lack of transparency in releasing documents acquired through the CPI process.

City hall, meanwhile, is busy looking proactive:

This Wednesday (July26), Haddad announced during an interview with “SPTV” that he has canceled the auction that was to hire bus companies to provide bus service for the next 15 years, worth an estimated R$45 billion.

That does sound ominous. The members of Haddad’s political circle are said to have begged the mayor not to take this radical measure.  The plan is to take no action until after the CPI concludes its business and public consultations are opened to citizens — the PT reviving its “participatory” DNA.

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