VLT Rio: goal is to move over 60% of the buses away from the Center

A lawyer with office in Avenida Rio Branco needs to go to the Forum, and instead of taxi, bus or on foot, sweating under his suit in the Center heat, he uses the tramway, in a temperature of 24 degrees. A businesswoman in high heels does the same between the boats station, in Praça Quinze, and Santos Dumont Airport, without facing traffic jams and the risk of losing the flight: at rush hour, the wait for the tram takes only three minutes. These scenes are part of the near future with far fewer buses and the presence of so-called LRT (VLT in Portuguese), which will connect the entire Center and the Docklands.

By estimates of the municipal Department of Transports, the bus fleet of the Center will be reduced by more than 60% by 2016, when all the new transport system will be operational.

The Secretary for Transportation, Carlos Roberto Osório, says that that total could be even higher: in this case, of the 3,500 buses that run through the Centre, 2,310 would leave the region, relieving the streets and making room for the LRT. There is also the goal of reducing by at least 15% the total of cars that transit through the central area, a percentage that represents five thousand vehicles per hour.

– The last simulation showed a reduction of 60%, and could reach 66% – he says, adding that the change is due to the LRT and BRT Transbrasil, which shall connect Deodoro to the Center (replacing the long-distance buses) and will be integrated to the new trams, as well as other modes. – We will have integration with the intercity buses in the Rodoviária Novo Rio, another at Central and Américo Fontenelle Terminal, with metro stations Uruguaiana, Carioca and Cinelândia, and with ferries.

Infrastructure works will begin in January

Infrastructure works to receive the trams, originally planned for the second half of this year, will now begin in January, according to the schedule released by the Harbor Urban Development Company (CDURP) and the consortium VLT Carioca. In the Docklands, Via Binário already has the bed through which the delimited VLT rail shall pass. The transport will connect the Rodoviária Novo Rio to Santos Dumont and will feature 32 trams, distributed over six lines, and 42 stations spread over 28 kilometers of system length.

With everything ready, LRTs can carry 285,000 passengers/day, which will pay a single fare ticket.

The first phase starts operating in the second half of 2015 and corresponds to the section Vila de Mídia (vicinity of Novo Rio)-Santo Cristo-Praça Mauá-Cinelândia. The second phase will be ready in the first half of 2016. For the Olympics the sections Central-Barcas, Santo Cristo-América-Central-Candelária, América-Vila de Mídia and Barcas-Santos Dumont will be completed.

Five trains will come from Spain

With so many LRT promises to Rio – since the early ’90s that such projects are presented, without ever moving forward – Osório tries to show confidence, saying that people can already see the bed of the new trams prepared at the new Via Binário:

– The work has already been subject to bid, we have guaranteed the resources and interventions began with the revitalization of the harbor area, where the LRT bed is ready.

The compositions have been ordered by the consortium to the French company Alstom. The first five units come from the factory in Spain. The remaining 27 trains will be manufactured in Sao Paulo. Simulations have already shown the trams (with the design that will be seen on the streets of Rio) circling the city. The transport, with underground electric network, without exposed wires at the top, follows the pattern seen in the cities of Bordeaux, Reins and Orleans, in France – although there they are not entirely without catenary (exposed wiring). The Rio system will be closer to that being implemented in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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