Rio Light Rail Transit System Opens -- Photodesk

(ATR) Rio opened its new light rail transit system (VLT) the only way it knows how: with a carnaval atmosphere.

(ATR) Rio de Janeiro opened its new light rail transit system (VLT) the only way it knows how: with a carnaval atmosphere.

The first line of VLT became operational today, as the first three tramsbegan use on the new rail system. The opened line connects the city’sbus terminal to Santos Dumont airport going through the heart ofdowntown Rio de Janeiro.

Avenia Rio Branco, home to the majority of stations on the line, wasclosed to all cars so that pedestrians could see how the VLT trams willrun along the tracks. Samba schools Mangueira, Portela, and Vila Isabelcontributed to the festivities as part of the city’s official launch ofthe system after Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes inaugurated the firstline.

The second line connecting Central Station and the Praca XV square isexpected to become operational in the second half of this year. A thirdline connecting Central Station to Santos Dumont airport is expected tobe completed in 2017.

"The VLT is a mobility effort inspired by the Olympics, which serves todo a lot to the city," Paes said to reporters ahead of the launch. "Wecould hold the Olympics without the VLT. It is an effort to rescue thecity center as a place that people can attend, enjoy and live in thefuture as well."

Click here to view photos from the event.

Written by Aaron Bauer in Rio de Janeiro

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