Belo Horizonte is one of the host cities of the soccer world cup in 2014, and one of the cities which has been receiving investments from the government to develop its infrastructure. Know in this article how to move around in Minas Gerais' capital.
Belo Horizonte is the sixth largest city in Brazil, with over 2,3 million inhabitants. The city, located in Minas Gerais, a Mid-West state in the country, is also in the group of the six cities that generate more income in Brazil. It has, therefore, the problems that every big city has.
A recent research made by the Sindicato Nacional de Arquitetura e Engenharia, Sinaenco, the national syndicate of architecture and engineering, showed that traffic and transport are the two main problems of Belo Horizonte, according to its citizens. The city presented the highest increase of vehicle fleet among all Brazilian capitals, in an average of 10% a year.
Belo Horizonte's public transport is not really efficient indeed, following the bad example of other cities in the country. The lack of infrastructure may be exemplified by the fact that there is no metro station next to Mineirão, the stadium where some of the FIFA World Cup matches will take place, which is 12 km far from the central area of the city.
The friendly match between Brazil and Chile on April, 2013, served as a test to the FIFA World Cup Local Organizing Committee to see how operations for the Confederations Cup would work. For this competition, the traffic of the city was changed and the streets near the stadium were blocked from the general public. The result: the two main avenues that go to the stadium were congested, and a lot of fans only got to Mineirão after the match had already begun. Plus, the bus that took the Brazilian team to the game had to go the wrong way to get the athletes there on time.
Belo Horizonte's metro system is known for taking passengers “from nothing to nowhere”, due to the fact that the stations are far away from important avenues, neighborhoods and places of the city. It has only one subway line in operation, and counts 19 stations, some of which have bus integration.
The government has a BRL 3,1 billion project for increasing the railways and the forecast is that construction will start at the beginning of 2014. There will be the addition of 1,7 km to Line 1, and Lines 2 – which will have 10,5km and 6 stations – and 3 – which will have 4,5km and 5 stations – will also be built. The forecast is that, when work is concluded, the amount of passengers will increase from 200000 to 900000 per day. The metro extension will then reach 44 km.
Belo Horizonte's metro works from 5:15 am to 11 pm, but the only stations where the ticket office is opened by 5:15 am are Vilarinho, São Gabriel, and Eldorado. The other station ticket offices open at 5:40 am. The single ride ticket costs BRL1,60 and the multiple ride ticket – you pay for 9 subway rides and gain 1 – costs BRL 16,20.
Belo Horizonte has a system of electronic cards called Ótimo, which are provided to local employees by employers. People who get the subway and a bus within 90 minutes pay a lower cost of integration than the standard. The integration with buses for people who use Ótimo card varies from BRL 2,45 to BRL 4,35 according to the line and the bus.
Since there is no metro station next to the stadium which will host some of the World Cup matches in 2014, the best alternative is to go by bus. Around 1,5 million people transit in buses through the city everyday, and this is the most common mean of public transport used there. Bus fares in Belo Horizonte were also decreased after the demonstrations that occurred in Brazil in June, 2013: from BRL 2,85 to BRL 2,65, cheaper than the fares of other 11 capitals in the country, such as São Paulo (BRL 3,00), Brasília (BRL 3,00) and Rio de Janeiro (BRL 2,75).
There are different fares depending on the bus routes. For instance, the yellow microbuses which go to villages and shanty towns cost BRL 0,60, but the buses which go on the Executive Lines may cost BRL 4,00 or BRL 5,00.
People can also use electronic credit cards in order to pay fares. The BHBUS can be bought at kiosks and at stations Barreiro, Diamante, Vila Nova e Vilarinho, and cards are valid for 1 year counting from the day when they were purchased. Credits can't be revalidated in case they expire.
There are over 6300 taxis in the city, which are controlled by BHTrans. New concessions were made in 2012 and new taxis, supplied with technological apparatus, were introduced into the streets. They count with a system of biometric – to determine the time of the day when the driver started and stopped working – and a lighted sign, which turns green when the taxi has no passengers; yellow when it is busy; red when there is a passenger paying fare 1; and blue when there is a passenger paying fare 2. The initial price of the ride is BRL 4,10, and the two fares for the price of the km cost BRL 2,40 (fare 1) and BRL 2,88 (fare 2).
In 2005, a project named Pedala BH was created, which motivates the use of bicycles as means of transport, providing more infrastructure to make this possible. By August, 2013, the extension of the cycle ways had reached 52 km, and the forecast was to reach 100 km by the end of the year.
Some people believe that it is not possible to ride bikes in Belo Horizonte because the city is composed of a lot of mounts. There are, however, alternative ways to ride the bike in it. The cycling group Zoobiker tested some of the routes through the city and proved that cycling in Belo Horizonte is possible, but it requires disposition to face not only the mounts, but also the cars and the disrespect of some drivers.