The Metro Barata Rush

The Rio metro


Today will be the last in a trio of posts about public transport in Rio. In the Beginner’s guide to taking the Rio Metro, I mentioned that there can be a bit of a scramble to get a seat during rush-hour – the Barata Rush. Well today I thought I’d show you the footage as it makes me chuckle.


Kind of sweet at the end – the couple who missed out have a little hug to console each other.


“Barata” means cockroach in Portuguese, but I’m not calling these people cockroaches! The first time I saw this, I heard a couple of guys laughing at the way that people ran into the empty carriage to get a seat. One said “They move like cockroaches in the kitchen when you turn on the light”. Kind of stuck in my head. If anything, as a bus user, I see myself as one rung down on the public transport ladder…

The only time and place I’ve ever see this is at Botafogo during rush hour – that’s because it’s the beginning of one of the metro lines, so the train is empty and many of the people are at the beginning of a long journey. Therefore the difference between getting that seat or not is whether you stand or sit for an hour.

I think the Rio metro is great. But I should probably point out that my experience is probably not fully representative. I generally travel no more than 5 or 6 stations and the route I take never seems to get very full. But I’m told that after I get off, the trains get more and more crowded with each stop. I can imagine that as that happens, the space transforms from cool and comfortable to crammed and unpleasant.

My experience of the metro…

A more representative image?

Certainly not everyone shares my rosy view of the metro. Trying to be a journalist blog gives a quite different view: Hot, crowded, smelly, few seats. And the Barata Rush is described as something kind of frightening, with people falling and losing their shoes. But she also describes some aspects in a positive light, like the atmosphere of camaraderie in the women only carriage.

It can be tricky writing a blog about a place that you’re still getting to know. If you’re too positive then you can be accused of being naïve and painting everything in rosy colours. But if you are negative then you can make your hosts angry/defensive. Ideally I’d like to be balanced but still offer up my own opinion. Therefore I will simply say that the Metro seems OK to me but YMMV.

3 replies
  1. brasilicana
    brasilicana says:

    Wait, there seriously is a women-only carriage? I actually thought you were joking when you mentioned it in the last post!

    Here's hoping Salvador finishes its metro sometime before the next great Ice Age… so far it's 11 years of construction and counting!

  2. Tom Le Mesurier
    Tom Le Mesurier says:

    Not joking, it's a real thing. Initially I thought "Isn't it sad that there needs to be such a thing", but now I just think that it's probably easier to make a women-only carriage or two than it is to change a way some guys behave. From that 'Trying to be a journalist' link it sounds kinda fun!

    (by the way, I discovered the existence of the women-only carriage the hard way. I walked into a carriage without noticing that I was the only guy. I was invited to leave immediately!! I won't make *that* mistake again!)

  3. The Gritty Poet
    The Gritty Poet says:

    Unless it's a ploy catering to Taliban friendly commuters this woman-only carriage really sheds a negative light over the behavior of male users. I mean c'mon dudes; get a grip (pun function off). Seriously though, what a gross underlying cause (PFO again).

    The barata thing reminds me of how people in certain places in Asia storm the elevator when it opens, before allowing the people inside to exit. Total disaster. I hope the scramming in the Metro is limited to seating and that enter/exit is harmonious.
    I bet you the winners of Barata Rush picked up the knack during Musical Chairs.


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