São Paulo's 'Line-Cutter' Turns 20, Isolated, Empty And Incomplete

Bus Rapid Transit was a promise from mayor Celso Pitta in 1996

Fabrício Lobel
São Paulo

At age 20, after having its name changed to Expresso Tiradentes (Tiradentes Express) and more than R$ 1.2 billion (US$ 288 million) spent on it, the Fura-Fila (Portuguese for "Line Cutter" or "Queue Jumper") keeps on, underused, incomplete and still cut off from the rest of São Paulo's public transportation network.

Fura-Fila functions today as an elevated bus lane 8.2 km (5 miles long) from downtown to one terminal in Vila Prudente, in the eastern part of the city, and another in Sacomã, to the south. Fares are collected from passengers in the bus stops, which speeds boarding. 

The Tiradentes Express elevated bus lane, formerly known as "Line-Cutter" - Folhapress

The exclusive lane and the boarding system allow for a higher average speed than any other bus lane in town. It makes more than 25 mph on peak hours, even after suffering a decrease of 5% from 2013 to 2017. Other bus lanes make between 11 and 18 mph during peak hours.

Specialists say that Fura-Fila is the only BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) in São Paulo, a transportation model between common bus lane and subway, in service quality and passengers capacity.

In these 20 years, construction has been interrupted a few times, but the project's funding kept rising. Marta Suplicy, then affiliated to PT and one of four mandates that kept the project going, once called Fura-Fila a series of misfortunes, due to its high cost and low efficiency.

According to campaign promised, the Fura-Fila would transport 300,000 passengers per day. By 2007, it would be 350,000. But since then until now, the average is 73,000 passengers per day (or 87,000 if counting only weekdays).

Translated by NATASHA MADOV

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