Brasília was created to house 500,000 people, but there are already 2,5 million people living there. This article will show the means by which all these people move through the city.
Brasília was planned and built to be the capital of Brazil. Rio de Janeiro had been the capital since 1763, when Brazil was a Portuguese colony, but the governors' interest was to transfer the center of political decisions to a more distant place from popular pressure.
Arguments had been raised over the decades as to where the capital of the country should be located – it was necessary to find a place where the country's government would be protected, something which the coast could not offer.
After a lot of arguments and speculation, it was decided that the new capital of the country would be located in the geographical center not only of the nation, but of South America as a whole. The capital would leave the coast advancing towards the west of the country, which wasn't really inhabited during the 1950s.
Brasília's Pilot Plan
The project to build the capital was thought back in 1823, but the works only started more than a hundred years later, in 1956. The administrative powers' transfer occurred in 1960, after 5 years of uninterrupted works - the then president, Jânio Quadros, claimed that these works were part of the “50 years in 5” development project.
Brasília was built in the shape of an airplane – or a bird in flight - and projected by the famous architect and urban planner Lúcio Costa, who divided the city in axes: the Monumental Axis, where governmental buildings and the main civic monuments are located; and the Residential Axis, where one finds residential and commercial areas.
The population of Brasilia grew a lot more than the expected. The original project took into account 500,000 inhabitants at most; however, in 2010, when it celebrated its 50 years, the city was the abode for over 2,5 million people. Its unrestrained growth compromised the original structure and the current inhabitants suffer from traffic jams, social inequality, and other consequences borne from a big metropolis – something which Brasília was not built to be.
Brasília's metro operates two lines – the Green and the Orange. Together they form a "Y" composed of 24 stations, on which 32 trains take, on average, 130,000 passengers a day. There are 5 other stations already under construction or planned, which should be finished by the end of 2015, benefiting over 30,000 other passengers.
Brasília National Stadium, the Mané Garrincha, is one of the most expensive stadiums for the World Cup in 2014. It is situated approximately 3km from Central Station - a station which is accessible both from the Green and Orange lines.
Brasília's metro offers different options according to the needs of commuters. Like in Rio de Janeiro, there is the single card, which costs:
- BRL 3,00 from Mondays to Fridays and can be used for three days counting the day of the purchase.
- BRL 2,00 on weekends and holidays, being valid only for the day it was bought.
Apart from the single card, there are also:
- the Flex Card, which can be bought at ticket offices, is rechargeable and valid for 90 days. It deposits the cost of the day, respecting the difference in the fee during week days and weekends. It can be recharged online.
- the Multiple Card, which can be acquired after registration. It works like a Flex Card, but it doesn't have a limit of validation. It can also be recharged online.
The residential areas of Brasília are called super quadras (blocks). According to the original project, each one should be autonomous, with their own school, playgrounds and commercial areas. Brasília has buses which run through the main avenues, and minibuses which go through secondary streets, running through these super quadras.
Brasília has approximately 4,000 buses, and the bus fare hasn't changed since 2005: between BRL 1,50 and BRL 2,00 for circular buses, reaching BRL 3,00 in the administrative regions and between them and the Pilot Plan. During working days, there is a microbus service named zebrinha, which also costs BRL 2,00 and goes from the Pilot Plan to the main sectors of the city.
Contrary to the custom in other cities, taxis in Brasília usually stay in their spots, and it is hard to find an empty one on the streets; there are some which go around specific points, such as hotels or shopping centers. The advice is to have the telephone number of a taxi central or to look for a taxi stop. Fare 1, paid in commercial time and inside the urban areas, costs BRL 4,08; fare 2, charged out of commercial time and out of the urban ways, costs BRL 2,82.
Brasília has 150 km of bike lanes and 79 km of bike paths, reaching a total amount of 229 km. According to the Secretary of Public Works, Davi Mattos, the intention is to get to 600km of tracks by the end of 2014. A research made in 2010 by the non-profit organization Rodas da Paz showed that over 200,000 people use their bikes to go to work or school in Brasília.