Brazil Brings Carny-grade Transit to 2016 Olympics

Rio De Janeiro is set to host the 2016 Olympic Games, and – like many Olympic host cities – is working hard to finish a number of civic construction projects in a bid to put its best foot forward when it meets the international crowds that always follow the Games.  Many of those projects will be all-new architectural triumphs plastered with Petrobras logos, but at least one project will be immediately familiar to fair-going Americans the instant they see it:  the sky ride!

The first of these “permanent” electric cable-car transit systems was inaugurated into service last Thursday by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and members of the project’s design team from Alemao PAC, who hope to provide the residents on the outskirts of the city with easy transit to the games’ stadiums and touristy-infrastructure, making it easier for members of the outlying communities (usually lower-income neighborhoods) to have access to the new job opportunities the Games are expected to bring to Rio.  This line will service the 120,000 residents of Alemao with 152 composite-bodied cabin cars, each capable of transporting ten people between six stations for a combined rate of over three thousand passengers per hour.

Let’s face it:  commuting sucks, but sky-rides are super-awesome (as is any transit system that’s clean, efficient, and relatively immune to the sort of traffic jams caused by minor accidents and throngs of rubber-necking busy-bodies jabbering away on cell phones about how bad the traffic is we seem to get in the US), and if it seems like I’m making snarky comments about this being “carny-grade” technology, keep in mind that I (like many Americans) have nothing but great memories surrounding the county fairs and theme parks I’ve seen these in.  Besides that, the Brazilians do have a certain sense of style that somehow eluded the traveling carnivals of North America.  Just one look …

Bruno Soares, via Estadao

… and I think you’ll agree that the Brazilian government spared no expense to make this one sky-ride that’s worth all four tickets.

Stylistic questions aside, however – do you think a system like this will work on a large scale?  Early signs point to yes, even these few short days into its existence (before the games and the jobs that will sprout up around them) the Brazilian cable-cars ferried nearly 17,000 people in and out of Rio in only their second day of operation!

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Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.