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SBD Global/June 27, 2013/Olympics

Rio Sets Eyes On 2016 Olympic Games To Improve Public Transportation System

The Brazilian government "had hoped that a comprehensive overhaul of the public transport system ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics would leave the city with vastly improved services," according to Sarah Murray of the FINANCIAL TIMES. But after countrywide protests triggered by national fare increases this month, there "is scepticism whether even this huge investment will be enough to provide public transport that is both affordable and accessible." The protests forced São Paulo Governor Geraldo Alckmin and Mayor Fernando Haddad to abandon a rise of nearly 7% in public transport ticket prices, while in Rio, "authorities also reversed an increase in fares." Rio's "planned investments include the extension of subway lines and, with World Bank funding, the upgrading of the urban rail system." At the heart of the Rio scheme "is an innovative transport network that will cover more than 150km." The Bus Rapid Transit system "is based on similar systems pioneered in the Brazilian city of Curitiba and refined in Bogotá, the Colombian capital." However, behind the rapid development of Rio’s BRT "is more than infrastructure investment and transport innovation." Politics "has played a role, with municipal, state and federal governments aligned politically for the first time in decades" -- if only long enough to secure the right to host prestigious int'l sporting events. Brazil Country Dir for the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy Clarisse Linke said, "The Olympics created a huge opportunity for the city to move forward with transport. But we only got the games because of this alignment of political powers." She and others add that "a lack of co-ordination remains a problem, as illustrated by a continuing failure to connect the various parts of Rio’s transport system." Linke said, "There’s a total lack of communication between the secretariats that are planning and implementing each system. What ends up happening is a 'war of modes' -- rather than looking at how all the systems can feed into each other and communicate" (FT, 6/25).
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Olympics, Brazil

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