Photo: Van Transportation in Brazil
Van owners and drivers staged a protest Wednesday to demand special concessions from the Rio de Janeiro municipal government, using 3,500 of those public-transport vehicles to partially block a main road in the central section of Brazil’s second-largest city.
The Movement in Defense of Alternative Transport wants the vans to be included in Rio de Janeiro’s integrated transport system, which enables users to ride the city’s metro, buses and trains with a single ticket.
The demonstrators also want the vans to be able to circulate in designated lanes and use the city’s bus stops to pick up and drop off passengers.
Promoters of the “Day Without Vans” protest gathered early Wednesday outside the Maracana stadium and later spread out to different parts of the metropolis.
The drivers of hundreds of vans then used the vehicles to partially block a road that runs through Flamengo Park, near the Santos Dumont airport, forming a bottleneck that stretched beyond downtown Rio.
Protest organizers said the vans transport 1.5 million people every day in Rio de Janeiro, most of them inhabitants of poor hillside neighborhoods and the city’s outskirts who do not have access to bus service.
Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes told reporters that regulated vans already have been “gradually” incorporated into the city’s unified transportation system and accused the cooperatives behind the protest of having political motivations.
“All those who participate in the movement have permission from the mayor’s office (to protest),” but some of the participants could be unknowingly used as part of a political ploy, Paes told Radio CBN.