Brazil’s Buses: Simply Successful

Aaron Golub

During the next hour, about three hundred buses will come screaming down the avenue below my apartment here in the Copacabana district of Rio de Janeiro. Although three hundred buses an hour is a lot, many avenues in many cities in the world have even higher bus flows. But these three hundred Brazilian buses are different from most. They average less than three years of age, they’re full size (forty feet plus), and carry 85 passengers each. The higher flows in other cities generally consist of older or smaller minibuses. The Brazilian buses are owned by private operators, many with fleets ranging in the hundreds—and a few in the thousands. Most important, they make a profit, receiving no support or subsidy from any public agency. Indeed, buses are big business in Brazil, and have been for decades.

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