Brazil’s president backs key demand of demonstrators


Brazil President Dilma Rousseff with Pope Francis on July 23, 2013. AP

SAO PAULO – Brazil’s president on Saturday backed a key demand of demonstrators who recently packed the streets, saying quality public transport was crucial to resolving the country’s urban crisis.

In June, hundreds of thousands turned out over weeks to protest higher mass transit fares and call for better public services, including transportation.

“Public transport is for all social classes and aims to make urban spaces more viable,” Dilma Rousseff said as she inaugurated an automated light rail system in Porto Alegre, host of five World Cup matches next year.

In the wake of the protests, Rousseff proposed to allocate an additional $25 billion to upgrade public transport, particularly in major cities plagued by traffic jams.

On Saturday she recalled that, since 2011, authorities have invested nearly $40 billion to build or expand metro, rapid bus and light rail services.

Porto Alegre’s Aeromovel is an elevated rail shuttle built with innovative Brazilian technology that connects a city subway station to the international airport over a one-kilometer route in less than two minutes.

Brazil is spending billions of dollars to modernize its airport and mass transit infrastructure to cope with an anticipated influx of millions of tourists during the World Cup and Rio’s 2016 Summer Olympics.

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