Rio Grande do Sul has two cities with zero bus fares

With the aim of attracting more users to the public transportationtwo municipalities in Rio Grande do Sul implemented a program of zero tariffi.e, no ticket charge to enjoy the service. The municipalities of Pedro Osóriolocated in the South and Parobéin Vale do Paranhana, implemented the measure at different times – Pedro-Osoriense citizens have enjoyed free access since 2018, while Parobé adopted the project in 2022.

In Parobé, according to city hall data, around R$1 million per year in the program. According to Marcos Vinicius Carniel, Attorney of the municipality, the city suffered from infrastructure problems in public transport vehicles, as a result, the municipal Executive carried out a study to enable a new bus fare cost based on a city in the state of São Paulo, which had a similar project. “We visited the municipality of Vargem Grande Paulista in January 2022 and we analyze the conditions to adopt the initiative in Parobé”, he said.

After the trip, Mayor Diego Picucha decided to fund the zero fare with public revenue and, through a tender, hired the company Expresso Charqueadas, which partially finances the bus operating services. The city council only pays for the kilometers driven. According to Carniel, there are reports of couples saving up to R$650.00 per month compared to the period when there was no zero tariff.

Furthermore, the municipality created an application that works objectively, enabling pengers to choose their departure location and final destination, in addition to having all the information about bus lines in real time. All city buses have air conditioning and accessibility. Before zero fares, Parobé had around 200 people a day using buses. After the program, 1,400 people per daythat is, seven times more.

In Pedro Osório, the city hall took on the function that was previously managed by the Autonomous Department of Roads and Highways (Daer) and embraced the idea of ​​public transport in 2018 – with regulation in 2019. The service, which was previously provided by a company called by the State it was interrupted due to withdrawal and the exemption from the fare, which was only for the elderly, became available to all inhabitants of the city.

Another city in Rio Grande do Sul that partially adopts the zero-fare program is Gramado, on the hill. The city council partially adopted the measure in June of this year, providing free transport on weekends in high season months, which include November and December. The idea is to try to minimize the high flow of vehicles caused by movement during these times, the height of winter and part of the Natal Luz period. The city hall is the one who subsidizes a percentage of the ticket to the company that provides the service.

Expert sees need for city halls to direct resources to encourage the use of collectives

Specialist in urban and regional planning from the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of São Paulo (FAAUSP), Daniel Santini studies the impact of the zero-tariff program on Brazilian cities. According to research carried out by him and his team, the initiative has already benefited 87 Brazilian locations, impacts 110 thousand users and, in 2023 alone, 25 municipalities joined the planning.

The study on zero tariffs carried out by the academic seeks to map the cities that adopted the plan, in addition to the population of each municipality that could be impacted by the measure. According to Santini, the growth of individual vehicles in traffic goes against the lack of investment in the conditions and viability of public transport “Looking realistically, it is possible to understand that these initiatives have the potential to, at least, change the proportions (between vehicles and collective) or curb this increase in individual transport”, says the academic.

Data presented by the State Department of State Traffic (Detran RS) show that, in October of this year, the municipality of Parobé, which has a population of 52,058, according to the IBGE Census, has 35,753 vehicles and only 398 are public vehicles, including buses . In Pedro Osório, whose population is 7,484 inhabitants, there are 4,451 individual transport vehicles and only 59 in public transport. The same study points out that Rio Grande do Sul showed, between 2013 and 2023, a growth in the individual transport fleet of more than 1.6 million vehicles, including cars, utility vehicles and two-wheeled motorized vehicles, while the collective fleet had a growth of just 7.5 thousand.

One of the main obstacles for cities is finding ways to subsidize bus tickets for users and exempt them from paying them. According to the researcher, there are some ways to finance the program, and he understands that the agenda will be a relevant topic in municipal elections, which will take place in 2024. “We are used to investing billions of reais to expand avenues, build viaducts and widen roads. It does It makes more sense to think about redirecting revenue to pay for collective public transport. This is of interest even to those who don’t ride the bus because it affects everyone”, he states.

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