Ana Gabriela Verotti Farah

Ana Gabriela Verotti Farah

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


Rio de Janeiro Public Transit

Ana Gabriela Verotti Farah

Ana Gabriela Verotti Farah

Staff Writer
The Brazil Business


Brazilian public transport is deficient, which makes traveling in the country difficult. In this article you will learn how it works in one of the most important cities of the country, Rio de Janeiro.

One of the concerns when it comes to Rio de Janeiro's infrastructure for the major sports events yet to come is public transportation. The city, home to more than 6 million people, has an insufficient system of subways and buses, which turns the place into chaos when combined with the traffic.

Changes to the transportation system are being made and subway stations are being built in order to improve the system. The changes are over due but the main catalyst is the arrival of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. A increased influx of tourists is expected and higher demand of public transportation is expected.


Rio de Janeiro's metro system consists of two lines: Line 1 – Orange and Line 2 – Green. The first one has 19 stations and some of them are close to touristic points of the city, such as the municipal theater next to Cinelândia station, which is also close to the national library of Brazil. The second has 17 stations, and between them, the main station which will be used by tourists in the 2014 FIFA World Cup: Maracanã station.

Rio's subway has different fares according to the customers needs. There is a single ride card – cartão unitário – which costs BRL 3,20 and can be used on lines, for a period of three days starting from the day of purchase. After these three days, it is possible to return it to the ticket office and receive BRL 1,00 back.

If you're going to stay in Rio for more than 3 days, the advice is to buy a pre-paid card, which also costs BRL 3,20 and requires a minimum initial charge of BRL 10,00 and a minimum recharge of BRL 5,00. The maximum recharge is BRL 500,00. This card can be used on both metro lines and also on the metro bus line, known as Metrô na Superfície.

For transfers between metro and bus lines, there are other options:

  • The Metro Card + Barra Express Bus via Siqueira Campos or Metro Card + Jacarepaguá Express Bus via Nova América/Del Castilho, which grants access to the metro lines and to the bus lines that go to and from Ipanema/General Osório station, whose final stop is in Alvorada, in Barra da Tijuca. It costs BRL 4,15.
  • If you buy the Metro Card + Barra Express Bus via Nova América/Del Castilho, you will receive a single ride card and a ticket to the Barra Express bus line. The card must be used on the metro, inserted in one of the turnstiles, and the ticket must be handed when boarding the bus. This option costs BRL 4,15.
  • The last option is the Metro Card + Express Integration, with which there are 14 possible options for integration with express buses, all of them leaving from Botafogo, Cardeal Arcoverde, Estácio, Largo do Machado, Nova América/Del Castilho, São Francisco and Saens Peña stations.

Rio de Janeiro's subways and transfers with buses operate from 5:30am to 11pm from Monday to Saturday, and from 7:30am to 10pm on Sundays and holidays.


The single ticket to use Rio's buses costs BRL 2,75. In the first semester of 2013, there had been an increase of this fare to BRL 2,95, but it was decreased again after the protests that occurred in several different cities of the 27 Brazilian states.

Bilhete Único Carioca

Rio has a single card that can be used both on buses and trains: the Bilhete Único Carioca, BUC. Using this card, it is possible to get two municipal buses – within 2 hours – paying BRL 2,75 or to get a bus and a train, in stations inside Rio de Janeiro's municipality, paying BRL 3,95. The minimum initial charge for this card is BRL 5,50 and it can be purchased both in RioCard stores, in accredited agencies of the bank, Itaú and in ticket registration stations.


Rio offers over 32 thousand taxis, which had their prices adjusted by 14% in March 2013. In the conventional taxis – the yellow ones with blue lines – the initial price of the ride is BRL 4,40 and the price per km varies according to the fare applied. In the 1st fare, applied from Mondays to Saturdays between 6am and 9pm, the price is of BRL 1,60. In the fare 2, used from Mondays to Saturdays between 9pm and 6am, and on Sundays and holidays, the price is BRL1,92 per km.


It is also possible to visit the city in vans, which can be used as an alternative to the public transport. Lately, however, the movement of vans in Rio de Janeiro has been prohibited in several areas of the city, mainly at the South Zone. The next target would be to restrict the circulation of vans in the center of the city too, where there is a high transport supply.


In the 2013 edition of the research done by a Copenhagen consulting company based on Copenhagen's example of bicycle-friendly city, Rio de Janeiro was the only Brazilian place to figure in the top 20 cities to ride bikes. The city doesn't have a really big infrastructure like other cities on the list – 300km against 350km of Copenhagen itself – but has potential to increase the use of bicycles and networks due the major events that will happen in Brazil. The goal is to create new bike lanes in the South, Central and in some place of the North areas of Rio de Janeiro.


Rio de Janeiro's city hall, in partnership with the Brazilian bank Itaú and the bike system SAMBA, also started a sustainable project of bike sharing system, in which the bicycles can be taken in specific spots around the city and then returned to any station available. It's possible to register online and pay BRL 10,00 per month, riding the bike as many times the person wants within 30 days, or pay BRL 5,00 every time the person wants to ride it – which is more appropriate for sporadic users. For more information regarding this system, visit Bike Rio’s website.