Combining modernity and tradition
Veículo Leve sobre Trilhos (Light Vehicle on Rails) will be the main transportation in the Port Region, connecting points like Novo Rio Bus Station, Central do Brasil, Terminal das Barcas and Santos Dumont Airport to the gateway to downtown Rio
Integrate diverse modes of transportation, such as trains, subway and ferries, and gradually reduce the number of bus routes on Port streets, are among the main objectives of the six Light Vehicle on Rails (VLT) lines that Rio’s City Hall will install in the region by 2016.
The project, which is still in the study phase, foresees connecting key points in the city, such as the Novo Rio Bus Station, Central do Brasil, the Praça 15 station and Santos Dumont Airport using modernized trolleys. All the trolleys will have air conditioning and be handicap accessible at the stops.
– In the future, we will have a Port without buses, with the buses arriving at terminals: those coming from the North Zone in one; those coming from the South Zone in another; and within the region, routes for VLTs, bicycles, cars or on foot. The idea is to get rid of the buses in the future. Of course, this will be done in a gradual and structured manner -, plans Jorge Arraes, president of CDURP (Port Region Urban Development Company), hoping for a future without the traffic jams so common in the region today.
The capacity will vary according to demand, but the trains will be limited to 450 passengers per composition. The VLT grid will cover 52 km, with 42 stations, three main ones that will be bigger and closed, for connections to other modes. The other stations will be stops, open and with free entry, with ticket validation done in the trains.
– Installation is projected to be carried out in three phases. In the first phase, we will construct the test line phase, which will connect the future Vila de Mídia, the Bus Station and Santo Cristo. Another line, this one operational, will leave from Campo de Santana to the ferries, along Rua 7 de Setembro -, explains Luiz Lobo, operational director at CDURP.
This way, some locations in Downtown Rio, besides the Port, will also be benefited, such as Praça Tiradentes and Cinelândia, the latter favored by the lines that will run along Avenida Rio Branco. The project was organized to have two lines operating by the 2014 World Cup; four by 2015 and 100% running by the 2016 Olympic Games.
The VLT will reurbanize degraded areas that have been forgotten in the Port Region, such as Rua Pedro Ernesto, where the José Bonifácio Cultural Center (under renovation) is located, and the old Providência Tunnel, which will be used by one of the modern trolley lines. The VLT will share space with other vehicles in some sections, which Arraes does not view as a problem.
– It is a cultural adaptation process. Rio de Janeiro has a tradition involving trolleys, and the VLT is nothing more than a trolley. It travels at low speed and it will have fitting signaling for this. In those sections where it needs to coexist with vehicles, this signaling will be bigger -, says Arraes, describing the VLT as a modern vehicle carrying the traditions of the past.