Using Public Transport in Rio

Discussion in 'Central/South America' started by NileGuide, Sep 15, 2011.

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    The Santa Teresa Tram is out of action following August's accident
    To the uninitiated, Rio’s public transport system can seem more than a little confusing. Buses hurtle along the streets with reckless abandon, passengers literally race each other for seats on the Metro during busy times, and the trains don’t stop anywhere that’s likely to be visited by tourists.
    Once you get to know how things work however, public transport in Rio proves itself to be inexpensive and abundant, and a little less chaotic than might first appear. The Metro system, which for years only reached as far as Copacabana, now stops in Ipanema, and their are plans to expand farther west into Barra da Tijuca in time for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Until then, express Metro Buses call at stops that aren’t yet on the tram line, and passengers can buy combined Metro and Metro bus tickets at any Metro station, for around R$1 more than the price of a regular Metro ticket. The Metro is affected by regular price hikes, but currently costs R$3.20 for a single journey, regardless of how many stops you make. To avoid queues at busy times, passengers can buy pre-paid multiple use cards at ticket booths in Rio’s Metro stations. While these don’t offer any financial savings, they’re worth picking up to save yourself valuable beach or sightseeing time.
    While things are undeniably a little chaotic during rush hour, the Metro system is nontheless comfortable, speedy and efficient. The system runs from the little-visted North Zone (the last stop being Pavuna, almost an hour away from the touristic Zona Sul) through Centro, Flamengo and Botafogo, and into the beach zones of Copacabana (where there are three Metro stops) and Ipanema.
    A little less comfortable but readily available, local buses in the city also operate on a fixed-price basis, making them excellent value for long journeys such as from Centro to Barra da Tijuca. A single journey costs R$2.50, and you should enter the bus at the front and descend at the back.
    Slightly more comfortable air-conditioned buses can be caught for a little extra, although be aware that the plush coach-style buses that run to and from the aiport will charge the full price (around R$8) even if you’re going just one stop. Most buses display their prices, along with their final destination and a list of stopping points, at the front of the vehicle. Their are many official bus stops along the routes, but the drivers won’t stop unless they are flagged down.
    Meanwhile, long-distance buses arrive and depart from Rio’s main bus station – the Rodoviaria Novo Rio. The bus station is located in a less than illustrious part of the city, so take taxis here (ask your hotel or hostel to call one for you) if you are carrying any luggage. Buses depart from here to locations as far afield as Bahia and Rio Grande do Sul, and even into Argentina and other neighboring countries.
    You can check prices and times (and in some cases book online) at the Rodoviaria’s website. If you need to buy tickets at the bus station, arrive in plenty of time to find the appropriate ticket booth, and be aware that prices for food and drink here are as bumped up as any airport – bring supplies with you if you’re on a budget.
    Ending on a sad note, Rio’s most charming mode of public transport, the rattling Santa Teresa bonde (tram) is currently out of action after a horrific accident on August 29 which saw six people die (the initial toll rose when one of the many hospitalised passengers later died) when the bonde came off the rails. Santa Teresa’s residents are lobbying for a full investigation into the causes of the accident, and it is hoped that it won’t be long before the beloved bonde is back, and operating with hugely improved safety. Watch this space.

    Photo: Lucy Brysob

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