In Brazil, the transport infrastructure is far from the ideal. Approximately 20% of Brazilians spend more than one hour to go from home to work. Now the government seems to be worried about that. Why?
According to Ipea (Institute of Applied Economic Research) public transportation had a loss of 30% of demand in the last year, while the demand for cars and motorcycles had increased. This research shows us that Brazilians are not comfortable with the infrastructure provided by the government to alternative transportation options.
Why public transportation is not good enough?
There are several points we could list in this article to point why public transportation is a huge problem in Brazil, but we would need a full article to approach this matter. Overestimated prices and lack of interest from the government in investing in public transportation are the major problems.
The federal government in almost all the states invests mostly in individual locomotion. Cities like São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília and Porto Alegre are “made” for cars. The working class is the one that suffers with it, relying on buses in very bad conditions, few subway lines and terrible areas access for pedestrians.
Another important point is that the Brazilian public transportation is definitely not made to support disabled people. They are victims of a failed system that only works when the country is visible to the world, but when things have to be made for populational benefits, they close their eyes.
Due to the World Cup in 2014, some changes are being made (even though in a very slow pace) to improve the public transportation infrastructure, including adaptions for disabled people as well, but the money that is being spent to that improvement is not realistic. It is not a lie when you hear a Brazilian saying that the government only thinks about the population in two periods of time: elections and world events.
Are alternatives viable?
Yes, there are always good alternatives, but what is missing in the country is incentives. There are some countries that invest in HOVs, which are exclusive lanes that are available only for people riding with more than two people in the car, but in Brazil, it does not exist.
If the government does not supports the idea, the population does! In Brazil, there are websites specialized in “rides”. They concentrate people that need or the ones willing to offer a ride. They collect information as trajectory and neighborhood, crossing information between who is offering ride and who is looking for it.
Another initiative is growing and making the government change it's view on the subject. They are the cyclists, winning space and respect every day, but they still have much more to win. São Paulo, for example, has 133.5 km of cycling network, and only in 2011 the government invested in 86,5 km construction.
Some banks such as Itaú and Bradesco are investing in bike renting, a system similar to the French one, positioning stations near subways where people can rent bicycles for a fair price. The problem in big cities from Brazil is that the population does not respect cyclists. People are not used to live along with them in traffic. There is a lot of work to be done before saying that riding a bike in a city like São Paulo, for example, is safe.
The Brazilian population seems to be understanding why rides, bikes and public transportation are so important, realizing that quality of life can become better if they work to make the government improve what they deserve not only when Brazil is visible to the world.
We just have to wait and see if those improvements in specific areas are going to continue, or if they are only another wave brought by the World Cup and Olympic games.
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