Rio Bus Rapid Transit

December 16, 2012 Rio de Janeiro

Case Study Source: The Joint U.S.-Brazil Initiative on Urban Sustainability, part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


Bus Rapid Transit systems (BRTs) provide high-quality, fast, and cost-effective high-capacity transportation by creating dedicated lanes, set stations, and regular and frequent service, greatly improving mobility especially in dense urban settings. The City of Rio de Janeiro, with its large territorial reach and population of over 6 million people, has faced significant traffic and transportation challenges and is in the process of constructing four BRT lines to improve mobility for its citizens and in preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games. These lines-the Transoeste, Transcarioca, Transolímpica, and Transbrasil-will transect the City, complementing existing metro, commuter train, bus, cycling, and boat systems as well as the planned light rail lines. When the BRT system is in place, the City expects it to carry up to 63 percent of Rio's population regularly.


Creating a high-quality BRT system can enable municipal authorities to increase livability, mobility, and sustainability, making it an attractive option in terms of high-capacity transport methods. Further, while BRTs are often compared to metro lines in terms of service and operations, they can cost 10 to 100 times less and are considered easier to manage, including for developing countries. Local authorities seeking to develop BRTs for long-term sustainability benefit from considering economic and social factors (demand, population distribution, fare structure, station accessibility, existing community siting), physical and geographic factors (width of roadways and necessary expansion, elevation, existing infrastructure), and technological factors (vehicles, real-time monitoring, signals, fare integration).

Environmental, Social, and Economic Benefits

In Rio de Janeiro, the BRT system is estimated to greatly decrease travel times, improve mobility (especially for the currently underserved West Zone), increase accessibility, decrease carbon emissions, and improve local air quality, which can positively impact health outcomes. For example, the average travel time from Santa Cruz to Barra da Tijuca should decrease from one-hour 40 minutes to 40 minutes with the Transoeste corridor in place.

Contact Information

Bruno Neele
International Relations, City of Rio de Janeiro