“The answer as to why the metro hasn’t improved is simple: it doesn’t improve like it should because there hasn’t been any political decision to expand it. The collective rail transport was never a priority for public officials in Pernambuco, whether state or local, who are normally responsible for defending it together with the federal government, the largest enabler of resources for mobility projects. This is the lesson for the subway, public officials, national modal defense entities, passengers and those who enjoy the benefits of rail transportation – subways, commuter rail or regional, monorails and light rail vehicles (LRVs).
The Recife metro numbers prove that so much indifference doesn’t justify itself. The number of users has been growing close to 50% per year, but, even so, the expansion of the system continues being ignored. The metro went 17 of its 30 years in operation without any amplification, just with the initial 25.2 km of the Central Line, subdivided in two branches — to Camaragibe and to Jaboatão dos Guararapes. In spite of being used by 280,000 passengers per day, its last extension happened in 2002, with the prolongation to Camaragibe. This year, due to the need to reach the World Cup arena, they revives construction efforts at the Cosme e Damião station. But that’s where it ended. The creation of the South Line, also an adaptation of the railroad, was more emblamatic for having confronted innumerable obstacles and paralizations. Eleven years of work to build out just 14 km of one branch, still incomplete, without all the integrated terminals provided.
Slow growth, aside from the stretch that connects Recife to the South Zone of the RMR (Greater Recife) having stopped being the ugly duckling, when it would transport just 5,000 people, to become a swan, with demand growth that duplicated in the last 2 years, arriving at 80,000 passengers. “We’re experiencing the bus lobby”, criticizes Diogo Morais, president of the Sindmetro. The importance of the transport system for the population was realized last week, when the metro was inoperable for 24 hours. For some years now, the absence of the metro wasn’t felt that much — those who work in the sector know this. But those times are gone and the number of passengers isn’t so easily absorbed by the buses anymore. During the last standstill, in order to transport the 360,000 metro users there would have been needed 450 buses more on the road. The State succeeded in putting less than 80 extra buses in service.
With the World Cup, the metro received R$100 million for the acquisition of 15 new trains and LRVs, but the system expansion isn’t even mentioned by the State. Meanwhile the population suffers. Besides the reduction in travel time, reasons abound for officials and policy-makers to be convinced that the rail system is the best and most efficient means of transportation for high demands, increasingly necessary in large urban centers. The cost of implantation, as always, continues being cited as the main obstacle. “It is high, but it ends up being offset. The capacity for metro or LRV transport, for example, is greater than it is for a bus. They’re quicker, more comfortable, pollute less and are safer. For all of these reasons, it’s the type of transport that is most attractive to the middle class. Currently, a networked metro system is going through a long-term planning phase. It’s 20 to 30 years out, growing four or five kilometers per year”, says Bartolomeu Carvalho, regional manager of maintainence for the Recife metro.” – Source (PT)
In the comments section of the source article, people are saying there isn’t growth in the sector because the owners of the bus companies are too politically powerful. Another commenter says he hasn’t seen any competent studies on what it would take to build out an effective metro system in Recife, something that should come before any other discussion on the matter. Yet another person said what needs to be done is to stop focusing so much on the South Zone and instead look at the North Zone (and Olinda, Paulista, Abreu e Lima and Igarassu).