Sitting Room

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bussing around in Curitiba - Part I

Bus Terminal in Curitiba

Where? In Curitiba. Brazil has 27 states – so we have 27 state capitals. Curitiba is the capital of the Southern state of Paraná – where I live. There are three Southern states: Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. Beyond RGS is Uruguayland. Curitiba has had all the reason in the world to have remained quiet and unknown. And it was. Until the mid 70s Curitiba was just a city, cold, normal, boring and growing to be chaotic. It was only in 1974 that the city was kicked out of its sleep and into the world arena to the point of having made the front pages of Magazines worldwide like TIME and Newsweek (I think).

You do not have to know this in order to safely take a bus in the city and go anywhere. But it will help to know that every bus moving around in the city has been the result of yers of sticking to intelligent planning – something not so normal in most Brazilian cities. The first thing I would say is, hum, there is a holy trinity to be identified here. The trinity is made up of 1) Type of Road, 2) Type of lines and 3) Bus Model.

The order in the trinity will not affect result so you can take it as you like, you can change it and nothing will happen. Just stick to one order. Let see what happened with trinity member number one: Curitiba Engineers associated with the Instituto de Pesquisa e Planejamento de Curitiba - IPPUC (Curitiba Research and Planning Institute came up with a public transportation system that would be very similar to the subway system but far less expensive and as efficient. First the city was made to fit a four-structural axis: North-South and East –West. Then they tried to find the shortest way between these points and went to work on what they called “busways”. Busways or bus lanes were made and thought for different types of bus lines (here is the second trinity member) that would run on different types of roads (the third member in the city’s engineering holy trinity).

The bus lines they came up with were Express Lines to be attended by Express Buses; Interborough Buses, Feeder Buses and Direct Buses. Let us not leave the tourists out of this planning. There is a Tourist Bus Line operated by a permissionair like all the others.

Express buses are red and run on “bus expressways” with stops at every 400 meter ( about 1.300 feet) and travel from Integrated Terminals to the city center. There are 21 such gated Integrated Terminals – accessible to people coming on buses or those who pass the turnstile to be admitted into and where people can change bus without having to pay an extra fare. More on this later.
Feeder buses are painted orange and operate between Integrated Teminals and the “bairros”, neighborhoods.

Interborough buses are green and serve several “bairros”, without having to go to or through the city center.

The Direct Lines are complimentary lines mainly to interboroughs and express bus lines. They are a silvery gray and tend to stop at every three kilometers. These are the main lines but there are more. I will write about them later on. But I will not keep you from knowing their names: Trunk lines, Conventional Lines, Downtown Circular and three special lines. Namely, the Tourism Line, the Interhospital Line
and something that is very interesting and wise the SITES Line. Sites stand for Sistema Integrado do Ensino Especial (Special Education Itegrated System) which are lines that pick up handicapped students throughout the city and take them to a special terminal. More soon. Cheers. Até lá.

Go to Part II

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