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Nov 27

Look what just rolled into Rio

One of my first ever posts was related to the buses of Rio. Back then I used to churn out a post a week and each one was a lot longer than the ones I write now. That particular post contains illustrated advice on how to hail a bus, an assortment of anecdotes and even a film recommendation (you lucky people!). 

 

Taken from one of my first ever posts, this illustration (done by my own fair hand) demonstrates how to catch that tricky bus in the outside lane…


Little did I know it at the time, but I would go on to become something of a bus nerd. I guess it is the same everywhere, when you use a transport system every day then you take an interest (I remember having in-depth discussions back in London over what was the best underground route for getting from Baker St to South Kensington during rush hour).


So I admit it, I’m kind of into the buses here in Rio. And something cool is roving the streets right now. Something hi-tech, something luxurious, something (dare I say it?) space-age in appearance.

Ray from American Heart, Brazilian Soul mentioned that the Metrô Na Superfície bus at the end of yesterday’s post looked nice. Well Ray, check this out:

OK, I accept that the tone I’m using here is like that of some computer nerd who gets excited about the release of an obscure new processor from Intel, but still, ain’t it cool?!



I think it’s that streamlined glass capsule at the front that really does it for me. So far I have only had the pleasure of viewing these as they glide past, but someday soon I would like to get in and take a ride (just hope I can contain my excitement when the time comes…).


But seriously, they do look good don’t they? They have much lower floors than the old buses, I’m sure they have better suspension and it looks like they’ve got awesome air-conditioning too. 


I am told that the old buses weren’t really designed as buses at all – the bus companies took a truck chassis and simply dropped a bus body on top – this would certainly explain the bumpy ride. Apparently a lot of them were made by Mercedes (the Mercedes truck division) which led bus passengers to joke “See you tomorrow everyone – my driver is taking me home in the Mercedes”. Well that joke won’t work with these new buses (they’re made by Scania), but if the bus system continues to improve, cariocas won’t want to joke about them anyway. They’ll probably join my fan club instead!

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3 comments

  1. Ray and Gil

    Ha! We are totally bus nerds too! :)
    These new space capsule looking buses do look really cool too!
    The first thing we did when I first went to London was to ride the double decker buses. I had always wanted since I was a kid and played with my "Made in England" Matchbox red double decker bus toy.
    It was fun, we were tossed around like two bags of potatoes when riding on the upper deck :)
    I just had one thing to say about the buses and the subway in London, someone needs to tell them about "Windex", it does wonders on super dirty smugged up glass ;)
    We took the train from the Airport into the city which was more money, but faster, and worth it in my opinion, not to mention the train is a lot cleaner than the subway.
    We took the subway on the way out of the city towards the airport to be able to compare. I only use the train now from and to the airport in London.
    We stayed at the Marriott in Mada Vale, and took the double decker to Ed Road for Lebanese food and Oxford street for some shopping, we had a blast. I love London and can't get enough of it.
    I felt something very familiar in the UK. I just couldn't put my finger on it, in details, it was more of a general felling. But I definitely could understand the strong British influence we always had in Sao Paulo.
    Now, back to buses, my favorites are the electric ones, we have had them in Sao Paulo since the 1930's, if you are lucky you can still see some well preserved relics from the late 50's cruising around downtown Sao Paulo. They are super quite smooth and don't pollute the air.
    Sao Paulo has a great "Bus Museum", it is a very short cab ride from Sao Paulo's main Bus Station ( Rodoviaria do Tiete ), the museum also has many examples from the city's rich cable car history.
    Thanks for sharing the video of the cool new bus in Rio. When you have a chance to ride it, please let us know if it's quite and offers a smooth rid.

    Abracos

    Ray

  2. The Gritty Poet

    Ray's message sparked a memory of when I rode the double decker in London and the tour guide told us the joke below.

    http://www.alltooflat.com/funny/jokes/jokes.php?viewj=457

    The pieces are all coming together now: Tom + a French surname, buses, the peculiar humor found in this blog…

  3. Tom Le Mesurier

    Hey Ray – ahhh, happy memories from London! I know what you mean about the murky windows – the trains on the London Underground are fairly ancient and often quite grubby. But the double-decker buses are great aren't they? Buses are always a bit more tricky than subways I think, but they're a great way to get to know a city and (in London at least) often much quicker. It was the first the thing my wife wanted to do when we got to London, so clearly we're well suited! :)

    Gritty, that's actually quite a good one.

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