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São Paulo | The Triumvirate of Transport

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Topic: Who runs the São Paulo bus system?

by  Guilherme Boulos

Source: Viomundo

Originally published in the Folha de S. Paulo.

Translated excerpt by C. Brayton

The predominant force in the city bus service is José Ruas Vaz, also known as “The Baron of the Asphalt” or “The Pope of the Turnstyles.” He is the founder of the Ruas Group, which controls no less than 53% of the rolling stock and receives 56% of the public funding. He also controls bus transport in Guarulhos and other cities in the greater metro area.

Vaz is a man of many enterprises, all of them oddly interrelated. He is, for example, a partner in the consortium that manages advertising at bus stops and the owner of Caio Induscar, which supplies bus chassis to its own sister companies as well as to competitors. If a sector as monopolistic as this can be said to have competitors, that is.

Ruas Group is also known for filing for the bankruptcy of debt-laden companies and then refounding them in order to make it difficult to collect its debts. In 2013 it faced 242 cases of execution for debt. Its pension plan contribution to the INSS reached R$ 750,000.

This is the gang that rules supreme over public transport in the largest city in Brazil.

Another major player in this area is Belarmino Marta, owner of the Belarmino Group, which comprises more than 20 companies that control public transport in various cities, as well as a portion of the capital city.

Along with Ruas Group, Belarmino is owner and partner in a number of Mercedes Benz concession-holders. Mercedes furnishes 65% of city buses.

A Mercedes sales director, testifying to the parliamentary inquiry (CPI) into the transport scriminalityector, produced the following pearl of wisdom: “They sell the bus and microbus chassis to themselves.” Clever, is it not?

The level of cartelization and criminality in the sector has become self-evident. Zero transparency. They have turned a public concession into a means to extort society.

Fares can and should be cut. But where to cut? The profits of the concessionaires, together with a thorough-going reform in the management of urban transportation. The creation of a public transportation company that would manage the system directly is an urgent and necessary measure.

Profitablity does not combine well with quality. A for-profit transport system means that riders must cope with overcrowding and expensive fares. An example of this is the bizzare practice of paying the buses according to the number of passengers carried rather than distance covered. In other words, it is a matter of carrying more people at a lower cost. The result is overcrowding.

Popular demonstrations and the new round of auctions for transport contracts scheduled for March represent an opportunity to question this logic, to begin treating public transport as a right.

What remains to be seen is whether anyone will have the courage.

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Metrogate | “Marked Cards,” Says Folha

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Source: Folha de S.Paulo

An exchange of e-mails among Siemens executives indicate that companies had prior access to the plans of the CPTM for four auctions held by the state government in 2004 — during the second term of Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB) as governor.

A document in the possession of federal antitrust authorities to which the Folha had access show that even before the publication of the conditions for the auction, the companies were already discussing how to divide up the  Boa Viagem program, launched by Alckmin and designed to refurbish, renovate and modernize the trains.

On November 24, and titled “Acquisition Planned by CPTM in Brazil,” an e-mail sent by a Siemens exec detailed how the company wish to divide up the contracts among the major suppliers. The first public announcement of the auctions were not made until two days later.

“The various reforms should go to various suppliers. The main goal of the  CPTM is to assign the complete package to four major suppliers  (Alstom, Siemens, Bombardier and T’Trans). In our case, we can count on  Iesa and  MGE as subcontractors”, the e-mail, signed by executive Marcos Missawa, said.

[Link] The other side: State denies ever discussing project with contractors

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Campus Fidei & The Million Man Mass

Campus Fidei in

Campus Fidei in Guaratibe, Western Zone, Rio:

Source: Folha de S.Paulo

Topic: The failure of the Campus Fidei project for hosting pilgrims in the Southern Zone of Rio.

“Campus Fidei,” a 1.32 million square meter tract of land in  Guaratiba, in the Western Zone of  Rio and scheduled site of the closing vigil and mass of World Youth Day, was installed on a clandestine tract of land, according to state prosecutors.

Among the owners of the land is businessman Jacob Barata Filho, according to Christiane Monnerat, the prosecutor assigned to the case.

Filho is the son of Jacob Barata, known in Rio as “The Bus King,” because he owns most of the bus collectives in the city.

The area, an example of the manguezal ecosystem , cannot be subjected to landfill because it lies within an area of environmental protection.

Wikipedia:

Manguezal, also called mangue or mangal, is a costal ecosystem and point of transition between inland and marine environments — a humid zone characteristic of tropial and subtropical regions.

In addition … Continue reading

Coverage | Rating Port Reports

Porto de Santos - Fotografias antigas

Via Observatório da Imprensa

By: Rolf Kuntz

Translate: C. Brayton

The Brazilian government is busy trying to stimulate the modernization of and competition among the ports, the stated goals of Provisional Measure 595, approved by a final vote in Congress on May 16.

Brazilian ports are among the best in the world at processing iron ore but occupy 35th place in the handling of containers, according to a study executed by FIRJAN and reproduced in the May 19 edition of O Globo.

To stimulate competition, however, it will be necesary to multiply access routes to various terminals, the Estado de S. Paulo warned in an article published the same day.

The contrast between coverage by the Folha and O Globo is striking: the Folha refers insistently to the current “chaos” as O Globo looks forward to an advance in the rankings, as follows.

Brazilian ports are experiencing a paradox. In port terminals for the export of iron, Brazil leads the world rankings in first, second and fifth place. Among ports that handle containers, it falls to 35th place, bringing up the rear in a study released by FIRJAN, the Rio de Janeiro industrial federation. Investments in increased capacity, modernization of equipment and improvements in electronic cargo handling could elevate Brazil to 17th place within three years. This leap, according to experts, could be favored by the MP dos Portos, approved last week in Congress.

Returning to the Estado analysis and its prognosis of “chaos”:

“The lack of alternative routes ends up overloading the southern and southeastern coastal ports, while other ports are practically idle.  In the area of grains, nearly two-thirds of production for export leaves the country through Santos (SP) and Paranaguá (PR). The rest is divided among 16 terminals scattered along the coast,” the article said.

With these articles, the two newspapers enriched the reader’s understanding one of the hottest and complex issues of the week, the vote on the Provisional Measure of the Ports. The major news organizations made a mighty effort over the course of that week to follow the voting in the two houses of Congress. Moreover, they took the trouble to explain the issue in detail and demonstrate to readers how important it was.

Hard Work

There were long, hard negotiations in the lower house. The government had failed to mobilize its congressional base of support. For this reason, a last-minute push was needed to obtain votes for the measure without agreeing to disastrous amendments.  MP 595 was to lose its validity at midnight on May 16.

An MP is a bill sent down by the executive to be voted by the Congress, with a time constraint. The mechanism is often criticized as an incursion of executive power into the powers of Congress.

With some of its main allies working against the bill, the government had to make concessions and promise resources for projects financed by budget amendments.

According to journalistic accounts, the Treasury is to release R$ 1 billion, and more political appointments are to be made. Debates in Câmara went on well into the night and the decisive session lasted 22 hours. Lawmakers were photographed sleeping on the floor of Congress, but sleep is a luxury reporters do not enjoy.

Observing this marathon was only part of the mission. Day by day it was necessary to explain the principal changes proposed, their consequences, and the probable reaction of the government.  It may be argued whether the effort was consistently successful, but the performance of the media was undeniable. It would be very difficult to obtain, in these conditions, a better result.  On May 17, the major dailies were still fixated on final approval of the bill, obtained quickly and with surprising facility by the Senate. The effort to translate the details of the text for the lay reader and to indicate the likely presidential vetos continued on Saturday.

Complex Agenda

On Sundary, the newspapers made space on the front page again for the topic.  “Brazil may advance in global ranking,” informed O Globo, with a jump head for an article on the classification and future of the ports. “New ports will require new roads and railroads,”, was the top headline of the Estadão. In a more discrete reference to the story, at the foot of the front page, the Folha de S. Paulo registered the statement: “‘I am not an evil genius’, said Eduardo Cunha, an opponent of the MP dos Portos”. Cunha leads the PMDB in the lower house of congress, the part of vice-president Michel Temer and the government’s most powerful ally. Its resistance was the principal obstacle to the approval of the measure.

Given the prospect that certain articles may be vetoed, there is much new material that will have to be explored and explained in subsequent editions. To date, the MP dos Portos is the most complete and best-organized governmental initiative to increase efficiency and competitiveness of the Brazilian economy.  But it is merely one part of a much broader agenda, as exemplified by the Estado’s story on the condition of access roads connecting to the terminals.

Maluf | Corruption Comes Home to Roost

Roberto Marinho Avenue -- a Sambodian Big Dig

The Maluf-inspired Roberto Marinho Avenue — a Sambodian Big Dig

G1 reports

A court in the Isle of Jersey, a European fiscal paradise, has ordered the transfer of one million pounds sterling — some R$ 4.5 million — with ties to the family of federal deputy Paulo Maluf (PP-SP) to the municipal coffers of São Paulo.

The funds were released on Friday (May 24) and deposited in the account of a law firm representing the city in London.  The money will be returned to the public coffers on May 28, since May 27 is a holiday in Great Britain.

Jersey court denies Maluf appeals Jersey, orders Maluf-owned companies to return US$ 28 million to SP

Jersey condemns Maluf to repay embezzled funds

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Decentering São Paulo: The Prefeitura’s Master Plan

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São Paulo’s new mayor has a plan for the Augean Stables of one of the world’s most automobilistic sprawls.

Source: Brasilianas.Org.

By: Wanderley Preite Sobrinho
Translation: C. Brayton

SÃO PAULO — With its Arch of the Future and “urban corridor” plans, the city government intends to revise the Strategic Master Plan by increasing the supply of jobs on the periphery of the city without having to restrict the circulation of automobiles.

The administration of São Paulo mayor Haddad is betting all of its chips on revising the city’s Strategic Master Plan in order to reduce traffic congestion without the need to restrict traffic in the central districts, as it has since 1997 with the rodizio, the  once-a-week rotating restriction of automobiles based on license-plate numbers.

In this way, the city will also have no need to challenge the federal government’s industrial incentives program, responsible for an increase in the purchase of personal automobiles — the principal villain of traffic congestion in the city.

The city government’s strategy is to use the Master Plan to realize one of the principal promises of mayoral candidate Fernando Haddad (PT): the Arc of the Future, whose aim is to reduce the circulation of vehicles in the expanded urban center by urbanizing and attracting jobs to the periphery, where most of the city’s population lives.

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Rio | The Return of the New Van Plan

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Black-market van stuffed with 10 armed, ninja-style black-clad corpses, December 2007, Rio de Janeiro

Source: O Globo — Portal ClippingMP.
Translation: C. Brayton

A follow-up to Rio Has New Man With Plan for Van, from 2007.

That year, fierce feuds over turf and market share broke out among the militias and drug traffickers who shake down independent operators of vans and mototaxis for «tolls» and «insurance».

It makes you wonder: are such measures also aimed at undermining the economic base of the milícia — cohorts of current and ex-police who invade territory neglected by the state and impose a mafia-style discipline — in these areas.

Probably. Ferraz, the special secretary of supplementary public transportation, made his bones pursuing the militias of Rio. He is also the author of the novel that formed the basis of the film Tropa de Elite |  Elite Squad 2.  The official announcement, from December 2007:

On December 5. Rio de Janeiro mayor Eduardo Paes announced the creation of a special office of supplementary public transportation, led by state judicial police official Cláudio Ferraz, former commander of the anti-organized crime bureau that has pursued the militias of Rio.

The Ban on the Van Continue reading