Connecting Barra to Tijuca, and beyond


(Rio’s 2016 transit system, click to enlarge)

Rio’s metro system consists of 41 stations, built over the last 47 years. So far, it’s been kind of the laughing stock of global metro systems, especially when it was famously compared to that of Shanghai. As of last year, however, there have been some improvements due to the Olympics, mainly the addition of Line 4 into Barra da Tijuca (well, sort of. It’s better to call it “just beyond Joá”).

The most recent improvement was just announced (PT). Starting next Saturday (March 25th), passengers that use Line 4 will be able to make a direct connection with Line 1, without needing to transfer trains at General Osório station in Ipanema. With the change, someone who leaves from Barra da Tijuca, in the West Zone, and intends to go downtown, can get to work in 30 minutes. Additionally, a passenger leaving Jardim Oceânico, in Barra, can even go directly to the Uruguai station, in Tijuca, without swapping trains.

For comparison: it normally takes about 30 minutes to do the same route by car, with no traffic. As of today, looking at normal morning traffic on Google, it’d take 50 minutes by car.  Also, let’s call a spade a spade: The name “Linha 4” is just marketing, since it’s not a new line, rather it’s an extension of Line 1.

So what about the future? Well, there are two new lines being studied: Line 3 and Line 5. The former will connect São Gonçalo with Niterói, eventually reaching downtown Rio via an underground tunnel (but don’t hold your breath – Line 3 is a bit of a pipe dream). The latter will connect the Carioca station downtown to Gávea in the South Zone, thus bringing together Line 4 and Lines 1 & 2. All in all, I’d say Rio stands to have around 70 metro stations by around the year 2030. Ok, maybe by 2040.

Safe to say that Rio’s metro system is, and always has been, a hot mess (PT). If we just take Line 4 as an example, the arrival of the city’s metro into Barra was included in the original plans from the late 60s/early 70s, and was supposed to be completed by 1990 (PT). Construction on the tunnel only started in 2010, finishing 6 years later due to the Olympics (otherwise, it surely would have taken longer) and the olypmic overpricing (PT) which was 21 times over budget.

It’s not all bad news, though. At least Rio once had the foresight to invest in a “metrô na superfície” (surface metro)…


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