8 Jun 2012

SAO PAULO'S TRAFFIC AND THE WORLD CUP IN 2014


After two months without writing here, due to my busy work, I’m back and ready to put into words my thoughts.

Today, I would like to talk about the chaos I may predict will occur here in Sao Paulo, during the World Cup. But I’m not going to talk about violence; I will talk about our terrible traffic.

With more than 7 million vehicles circulating on the streets every day, only in the Capital, it’s easy to realise that traffic here is chaotic. According to Time Magazine, São Paulo has the world's worst traffic jams! During the rush hour, we spend several hours to run few kilometres (as an example, from my home to my work, is about 12 kilometres; in the rush hour I spend one and a half hour to go to work - a route that I should drive in 20 minutes if there was no jammed traffic) or several minutes to drive a handful of metres.

View of "Avenida 23 de Maio" during rush hour.
Thinking of it, it’s not secret that Sao Paulo will have trouble in receiving tourists during the mega event in 2014 as it is the World Cup! If we, paulistanos*, have problems to move around, let alone the tourists!

The problem goes further than simply wasting time in the traffic.
Have you ever imagined to be standing up several hours on a crowded bus? Or have you ever figured out how is to be pushed out of a train due to the amount of people entering into the wagon you are in? Unfortunately, those uncomfortable situations are part of paulistanos’ day-to-day and, I see no radical change in our public transportation services until the World Cup.

On the tube
Sao Paulo is overpopulated because people from all corners of Brazil comes up here to  study, to find a better job, a better life; Sao Paulo is different from the rest of Brazil. 
While a huge part of Brazil still lives in the shadows of rogue governments which do not give people education, Sao Paulo has a high level of educated persons who do not allow to be tricked by those kinds of governments. The consequence of it, is a city which does not stop and never sleeps and is always overcrowded, in reason of this uncontrollable immigration.

"Sé" - The most overcrowded underground station
But let’s leave political problems aside and think in public transportation only.
Despite the “high level of education” of the people, the traffic is turning normal people into monsters. Drivers are always peeved and tenses. There’s a constant war against motorcyclists (most know as “mad dogs” or “motoboys”) who usually do not respect signalisation and ride their motorcycles throughout the “corridor” that is formed between the cars (it is forbidden by law, but traffic control is not enough to restrain million of motorcyclists doing so every day).

"Motoboys" overtaking cars in a dangerous way.
Pedestrians also suffer with all this mess and always pay a high price for this chaos. Only in the State of São Paulo, in 2011, there was an average of 1.800 running overs monthly! Of course it doesn’t mean dead toll, but an expressive number of them lost their lives in the traffic. If we consider that there’s 7 million cars riding on the streets only in the city, the number is proportionally low, but the value of a life is priceless!

Zebra crossings seldom are respected. Drivers are always in haste and are egoistic. As I said before, all education goes downhill when the subject is traffic and It affects mental and physical health, as well. We get stressed, tired, ill, and so forth, because the traffic.
Changes ahead?
Perhaps.

A touristic map of the "Metrô" of São Paulo
New undergrounds (subways) are being built as well as new projects to deal with the chaotic system of transportation. Will they be ready on time for the Cup? I hope so, since tourists deserve a good stay in our city. However, as it is still under construction, and at slow speed, all I can do is to hope they work it out - and quick!

For the time being, we keep surviving in this jungle of stones.
Let’s wait and see.

*Paulistano: a person who was born in São Paulo.
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