Street demonstration in Brazil have been in the news, one cause being an increase in public transport fares. An illuminating report in the Financial Times suggests that Brazilians’ love of the car has led to the cities becoming chocked with cars, while public transport remains poor. Car numbers have more than doubled since 2002 and Brazil is the world’s fourth largest car market. The government has boosted the car industry to stimulate the economy. But road capacity has not increased and investment in public transport has been slow. Sao Paulo has only 74km of metro track compared with Mexico City’s 227km.
There are plans to extend the Sao Paulo metro to 200km. The state secretary of planning is quoted: ‘The only way forward for public transport is rail …. Sao Paulo will not survive if we don’t do it’. That is the correct conclusion. Growing cities with increasing population density need to rely less on road and more on rail, particularly for work trips. Car’s share of journeys in Sao Paulo may well have passed its peak.