Here progress travels by bus
Thirty-two out of every one hundred curitibanos make daily use of mass transportation.
The Vermelhos (Red Buses), the Expressos (Express Buses), Articulados (Articulated buses) and Biarticulados (Biarticulated buses)daily crisscross the city's Norte-Sul (North-South), Leste-Oeste (East-West) and Boqueirão neighborhood urban axes, covering the city's boundaries in all directions. The circular-downtown line white buses cover the downtown area. Other points of relative importance on the city's map are linked by Interbairros (inter-district buses), whose routes cover concentric circles that stretch out, connecting points of the city.
The speedy silver 'Ligeirinho' (literally, speedy), with its modern design, has fewer stops, therefore shortening distances – when compared to the Linha Direta (Direct Line) – due to saved time. The integration of all the lines is provided by the orange-colored Alimentador (literally, feeder), linking terminals and intermediary stations, while the yellow Convencional (Conventional bus), continues to follow pre-1970 routes, which are shorter and more central. Those yellow lines were the only option available for mass transportation at that time, with lines arranged in a radial and diametric layout.
Back in 1970, the 'curitibanos' totaled a mere 609,026 inhabitants, a small portion of today's 1,587,315 inhabitants (2000/IBGE Census). At those times, the town was simply a passage point in the southern part of Brazil's map. The city bore the burden of chaotic traffic, and city functions and services were placed in cramped spaces. Meanwhile the city had to struggle to deal with waves of migrants arriving from the rural areas of the state 'seeking the heaven' that mechanized agriculture had taken away from them.
As a new decade began, in 1971, the City Hall was taking its first measures to implement Curitiba's Master Plan, originally designed in 1965. Transport was a key component during its implementation for one of the Plan's main assumptions was to use the means of transportation as a factor that would lead to the desired growth of the city. The rational use of land, flow of traffic and mass transportation then began to be planned together, in one single strategy, paving the way to urban development.
This revolutionary approach in public transportation was first put into action along an axis linking the Santa Cândida and Capão Raso districts as the Norte-Sul (North-South) axis became operational. Curitiba invented the ternary road system. The exclusive lane, better known as the canaleta (a term that resembles the term 'channel'), was a concept implemented from 1974 onward, with the Expresso bus line. And both, the canaleta and the expresso, would be the first step in a series of different and carefully planned measures that made up the Rede Integrada de Transporte – RIT (Public Transportation Integrated Network).
It was a remarkably sunny Sunday, date: September 20th, 1974. The purplish hue of the new components of acrylic urban furniture cast its reflection everywhere, even upon the flowers of the Praça Generoso Marques (square), which announced the spring. Dressed up in their Sunday clothes, the curitibanos had been arriving gradually since 10 AM. They were all lining up, very excited to go for a free ride on that somewhat unusual and modern bus, which looked so different from all buses they had seen before. All together there were 20 buses - 12 were lined up facing South (Capão Raso) and eight of them were facing North (Santa Cândida).
On September 19th, 1979 the first Interbairros circular buses began to circulate, covering 28 districts of Curitiba along an itinerary of 44 kilometers.
THE Rede Integrada de Transporte (Public Transportation Integrated Network)
Summer had already settled in on another Sunday, December 1st, 1980, at the Cruz do Pilarzinho district. There, twenty Interbairros buses, all glossy green painted, ten of them heading for the Cabral district (clockwise) while the other ten were heading for the Campina do Siqueira district (counterclockwise) registered -- in their first free trips for the population – the beginning of RIT's operations. The network became operational with an Expresso diametric route as well as three Interbairros routes, totaling 142 alternatives of itineraries available to the curitibanos.
The City's mass transportation system aims to be, above all else, humane. Senior citizens are entitled to seats specifically designated for them and physically disabled individuals in wheelchairs have their own area on vehicles as well as elevators to get on and off the buses.
In a coordinated effort to provide the RIT with the necessary support, the timetables of industry, commerce, services, schools and civil servants were adjusted to begin their activities at different times during the peak hours from 7:30 AM to 9:30 AM, thus offsetting possible traffic jams while distributing the need for mass transportation. The best measure taken at the level of the Metropolitan Area transport administration however, was the adoption of the tarifa social (affordable bus fares), in force to this date. Whoever gets on a bus may choose to follow an integrated route using other buses in the system without paying another bus fare. Shorter trips, often more central ones, subsidize the longer and more peripheral trips, especially the ones coming from neighboring municipalities that make up Curitiba's Metropolitan Area.
The first RIT bus line began to circulate on July 14th, 1993, linking Curitiba to São José dos Pinhais (around 15 miles from downtown). The official opening of the fully integrated network connecting Curitiba and its Metropolitan Area through mass transportation would only take place on April 9th, when the first Ligeirinho arrived in the city of Almirante Tamandaré. Less than one year after this first line, on August 19th, 1995 something totally unprecedented happened: the arrival of the 'Ferrari red' biarticulated bus – actually, two buses connected by a pliable, folded connecting device, measuring almost 22 meters long with five entrance/exit doors. The biarticulated bus circulates along the itineraries of the Linha Direta, plexiglas tube-station stops for timely entering/exiting maneuvers. Each biarticulated bus can carry 270 passengers.
THE RIT TODAY
Curitiba's Public Transportation Integrated Network maintains 2,100 buses (1,500 in its urban perimeter and another 600 integrated metropolitan ones). Of these 1,500, 1,280 operate on a daily basis and transport 2,040 million passengers each and every workday (1.55 million from within the Curitiba area, totaling 800 thousand passengers that pay fares; and 490 thousand from within the Metropolitan Area of which 230 thousand pay fares). Buses travel every day along all the routes of Curitiba and surrounding areas, distributed among 385 different lines (285 of them urban and 100 ones in the metropolitan areas) and five thousand bus stops. In addition to these bus stops, there are 351 tube-stations and 29 integrating terminals.