Many promises, a lot of money spent and no guarantee, so far, of improving the lives of those who pass daily along Avenida Brasil, the main road in Rio de Janeiro, with 58 kilometers cutting through the West and North zones until reaching the center of the capital.
The works on the BRT Transbrasil, which are intended to solve the problem of major traffic jams on the road, began in 2015 and are expected to have been delivered in 2017. It is five years late and the system, whose new forecast is to start operating in 2023 , already has a cost of almost R$ 2 billion.
According to Rio’s Municipal Infrastructure Department, the BRT Transbrasil should have been delivered in the past administration by then-mayor Marcelo Crivella (PRB). The Secretariat reported that the works were resumed in August 2021 of last year, under the management of Eduardo Paes (PSD), who started the reform in his first government.
For Pedro Bastos, a researcher on urban mobility at the Observatório das Metrópoles and a doctoral candidate in Urban Planning at the Institute for Research and Urban and Regional Planning at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (IPPUR-UFRJ), disagreements and political disputes are among the factors for delay, as the BRT is a legacy of Paes, like other works started in the city with the 2016 Olympic Games.
“BRT has been vilified for mismanagement [de Crivella], mismanagement that lasts to this day. But it’s a smart solution, it’s approved and it works in many cities around the world. And it is an ambitious project that needs a well-designed contingency plan to impact the city as little as possible”, analyzes Bastos.
The researcher explained that Avenida Brasil, inaugurated in 1946, was built to facilitate the movement of people, goods and merchandise out of the city, but that it became “an extremely perverse avenue” for intra-urban mobility.
“The road has enormous potential to increase people’s accessibility to the city, but people who live in neighborhoods like Ramos, Olaria and also in the west side have great difficulty leaving their neighborhoods and accessing the road. It’s a big contradiction,” she says.
For the researcher, the implementation of the BRT Transbrasil would not solve the problem of social inequalities along the way, but it would make access to work, leisure and medical care less difficult and more equitable, “fundamental rights for urban life”, he adds.
Engineer and coordinator of Casa Fluminense, Vitor Mihessen closely follows the difficulties of the BRT Transbrasil, but he also experienced the difficulties of those who need to travel daily along Avenida Brasil. During college, he lived in Realengo, in the West zone, and went to the South zone.
“At the time, I did the math: in a year, I lost 30 days in traffic on Avenida Brasil. The West and North zones are not places of passage for decision makers, this work does not end for nothing. This would not happen with a work in the South zone, where the rulers live. Peripheral and black people are held hostage by their CEPs, which are not the target of public policies”, criticizes Mihessen.
He also says that he sees a contradiction in the delay in delivering the work. According to the engineer, the North and West zones of the city, which would be impacted by the BRT Transbrasil, are the most populous areas of the city and the ones that elect, therefore, the “so-called representatives”.
“It is the same public power that, once elected, will operate in the model that concentrates opportunities, concentrates income and accumulation, and this is done in urban centers. But what Casa Fluminense defends is that these opportunities be expanded”, says Mihessen.
To Brazil de factothe Municipal Infrastructure Department informed that the works will end at the end of 2022, but the Gentileza intermodal terminal, which will occupy the land of the old Gasometer, already reaching the center, will only be ready in 2023 and the forecast of the total operation of the system is December 2023.
The current management is investing another R$ 430 million, which totals around R$ 1.89 billion of resources invested in the total work. In total, there will be 18 stations, four terminals – Deodoro, Margaridas, Missões and the Gentileza intermodal – plus 22 interventions such as viaducts and widening of lanes along 26km of track.
According to the Municipal Transport Department, in addition to saving time in traffic jams on Avenida Brasil, the expectation is that around 250,000 people will be transported daily on the BRT Transbrasil by 2030.
Source: BdF Rio de Janeiro
Editing: Mariana Pitasse