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Brazil: Sao Paulo Metro

By James Turner
June 14, 2010

Maybe there's hope yet for São Paulo's suffering drivers, perpetually trapped in anguished gridlock. The first two stations of the new Yellow Line No. 4 metro are now open, and for anyone who's ever cursed Av. Rebouças while idling on a smoggy day, there's light at the end of Marta's tunnel. The Paulista and Faria Lima stations are marvels in their own right, all clean lines and soaring spaces. You can get from Av. Paulista to Av. Brigadeiro Faria Lima in about three and a half minutes. That's right drivers, three and a half minutes, approximately five times faster than jumping behind the wheel on a typical weekday. And if you'd bought real estate near the new Faria Lima station several years ago, you'd be making four times your money. But that's another story.

The new stations are modern as can be, brightly lit, clean and colorful. They reportedly feature free high speed wireless internet, though your intrepid reporter did not test this offering. Glass doors whoosh open at the turnstiles. Uniformed employees stand at attention, eager to respond to inquiries. Clearly legible electronic signs hang above the platforms, keeping tabs on the next train's arrival time. A glass wall on the platform runs along the edge of the tracks. Its sleek doors only open once a train is stopped in the station. New York City could take a lesson in this regard, that's for sure. The glass barrier creates an unmistakable feeling of safety while waiting on the platform. The public address system however, was surprisingly unintelligible considering all the planning and attention to detail that's obviously gone into this ambitious project.

Inside the shiny new trains, it's all one long tube. The individual cars are interconnected without any interior doors, making for a pleasant stroll from caboose to engineer. Except there is no engineer. The trains are completely automated, leave the driving to the computer, thank you. The lack of a motorman's cabin frees up the front windows for metro passengers who like to peer into the murky light as the train winds through the subterranean passage. In-train announcements for the next station are sharp and clear.

The Yellow Line runs from Luz in the Centro to Vila Sônia, way on the other side of the Marginal beyond Morumbi. All eleven of the new stations are scheduled to be open by 2014. The Paulista station also provides an underground connection to the Green Line No. 2, which will eventually create a seamless run from Sacomã to USP and beyond. The new line is also expected to alleviate crowding on the Blue Line No. 1. If you've ever tried boarding a train at the Sé station during rush hour, you'll appreciate such a benefit.

Overall the new metro is wonderful, and for anyone attempting to live in Sao Paulo without a car the partial opening of the Yellow Line represents a welcome step forward. Even if you prefer to drive, give the new line a try to see what city planners have been up to. São Paulo's residential areas, business centers and cultural attractions are now within easier reach, with more relief still to come.

More information is available at www.metro.sp.gov.br..

James Turner is a news and public relations videographer. He lives in São Paulo and maintains a blog chronicling the best of the city, at www.videopaulista.com.


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