Megacity Sustainable Transportation System: São Paulo Mass Transit Systems, Brazil

Megacity Sustainable Transportation System Reducing Traffic Congestion, Decreasing Emissions, and Improving Air Quality and Public Mobility: São Paulo Metropolis Mass Transit Systems, Brazil (São Paulo is striving to become the first city with fossil fuel-free mass transit operation within 5 years).

Some interesting mobility demand facts about Brazil and its São Paulo megacity (credit: Luiz Cortez, Assessor – São Paulo State Transportation Department):

  • More than 80% of Brazil’s population live in cities.
  • Metropolitan São Paulo was ranked among the top 10 largest megacities with a population of over 19 million people.
  • Of the 38.1 million person-trips traveled per day in 2007, 66% utilized motorized vehicles, and 34% were non-motorized trips.
  • Trips by transit constitute 55.3% and 44.7% by auto.
  • Modal vehicular trip distribution: 41.3% auto, 35.7% transit bus, 7.3% school and chartered buses, 8.8% metro (subway lines), 3.2% train, 2.9% motorcycles, 0.4% taxi, and 0.2% others.
  • About 14 million people travel by mass transit every day with 35% traveling by metro subway lines.
São Paulo Metro
São Paulo Metro, Brazil








São Paulo Metro lines serve 4 million passengers per day. (credit: The Metro network has a length of 74.3 kilometres, distributed into five lines with 64 stations.  (credit: wikipedia).

The city’s extensive bus networks, along with commuter rail, help feed the Metro and vice versa, creating a comprehensive transportation network for the city. For example, the Metro station Pedro II has 67 bus routes that use the terminal adjacent to the station. Free transfers are available between the commuter rail system, CPTM, and the Metro, which effectively expands the rail system seamlessly to include the 200 km commuter rail network. (credit:

São Paulo Bus Transit Station and Dedicated Lanes
São Paulo Rail (CPTM)








In early August 2011, I was an invited speaker in a disaster related emergency response management workshop in São Paulo, Brazil, a megacity of 19 million people. I had a chance to listen to the presentation of Luiz Cortez, São Paulo’s Secretary of Transportation. Upon my request he gave me a detailed tour of their extensive transit services including riding on the metro, bus, and observing double articulated BRT operated on dedicated elevated roadway, rail service, and monorail construction in some areas. Some of the interesting features of a complex but efficient and fully integrated intermodal network of mass transport include:

  • Bus services are operated by several private concessions, but all road and station/bus stop infrastructures and video surveillance (both in bus and station/road) owned and maintained by government agencies.
  • Buses are being replaced after 5 years of service (16-18 hours per day service) with non-fossil fuel buses (operated on 100% biofuel). By 2018 they expect the bus fleet to operate on zero CO2 emission. (Bus fleet owned and operated by private concessions on different routes)
  • Electronic transit ticket regularization: A few years back the system (buy ticket once for use on bus, metro, BRT or rail with automatic transfer) was introduced and it made transit extremely popular with significant increase in ridership and less cars on city roads.
  • The average speed of bus on priority corridors is almost twice that of cars in adjacent lanes; all monitored and enforced by ITS video cameras to make heavy fines on overspeed by all and car drivers using bus corridors.

São Paulo City – Brazil. (video credit:   March 11, 2011)

Dr. Uddin’s note:   I appreciate the time and support of the following colleagues for material presented in this post:

  • Luiz Antonio Cortez Ferreira: Assessor,  Secretário de Estado dos Transportes Metropolitanos São Paulo
  • João Virgílio Merighi: Professor, Mackenzie University, São Paulo

On São Paulo mass transit passengers buy one electronic ticket or pass that can be used for bus, metro, BRT, and rail. A new monorail line is a part of the integrated intermodal network.  This facilitate seamless integration of all mass transport network and has reduced commuting time from city outskirts to city center from up to 2 hours to less than one hour at a price of 1-2 US$ per day.  More info on megacity transportation review is presented in Chapter 23 of Climate Change Mitigation Handbook, Springer, 2012.

7 thoughts on “Megacity Sustainable Transportation System: São Paulo Mass Transit Systems, Brazil”

  1. Thanks for another magnificent article. The place else may just anyone get that type of info in such a perfect means of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am at the search for such info.

  2. I am not sure where you are getting your information, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for magnificent information I was looking for this info for my mission.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *