Rio Metro Line Open For Olympics, Barely

(ATR) A date is set for the new Rio Metro to carry passengers. ATR Rio correspondent Aaron Bauer has more from the Olympic city.

(ATR) The new Rio de Janeiro metro line will carry its first passengers Aug. 1, four days before opening ceremony for the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Originally Metro Line 4 was supposed to open in limited capacity on July 1, but a spokesperson for the Rio de Janeiro State Secretary of Transport tells Around the Rings the opening has been moved back one month.

"As with any start of new subway lines operating in the world, the Metro Line 4 will begin operating with reduced capacity, on 1 August this year, and will be gradually extended," the spokesperson toldATR. "All systems required for the operation of Line 4 have been deployed and tested since January 2016."

Organizers are expecting Olympic tourists to use the subway, which will connect the South Zone of the city to Barra da Tijuca in the West Zone, to get to the Olympic Park. The subway will connect to the Transoeste Bus Rapid Transit line, which will ferry passengers directly to the park.

The metro construction project was not originally part of the Rio 2016 bid plan, but city organizers added it as an Olympic legacy project. The subway was originally to be delivered in 2015, but multiple delays on the project set it back to July 1. After a breakthrough in construction,officials said at the final Rio 2016 Coordination Commission meeting last monththey were sure the project would be completed ahead of the Games.

Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes told ATRthat it is because the metro is supposed to serve the public long after the Olympics, that it will only be open in a limited capacity for the Games. He said that state workers are working as hard as possible to finish the metro line so it can reach full capacity as soon as possible, and the Olympic Games will provide a test of the infrastructure.

"We are opening operations of the metro during the Games for this reason," Paes added. "There will be no problems, I hope."

With 100 days to go to the OlympicsPaes said that construction of the metrowas "no longer the biggest issue" for the project. Rio de Janeiro will also be introducing Olympic lanes throughout the city to facilitate public transit throughout the whole city.

According to Senior IOC adviser Gilbert Felli, organizers were aware that passengers would not be able to ride the metro until August. He told ATR that experts told the IOC that this was to allow for a robust testing to ensure reliability when passengers use the metro to get to the Games.

"The testing will start in mid-June, and you cannot operate until you do all the tests," Felli said. "Our experts are confident that they can make it in time, but again when you test something with big issues with electronics and everything you have to go through the process to see if it works."

According to the spokesperson the Olympics will serve as a test for the subway line before it is open to the general public. Only passengers with an Olympic public transit ticket will be permitted to use Line 4.

"Because it is a new line, identified adjustments will be made in the first operational step after the Olympics, before returning to operation during the Paralympics," the spokesperson added. "Importantly, all operational planning for Line 4 guarantees the security of the system and for passengers."

Written by Aaron Bauer in Rio de Janeiro

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