Posted by: leothegeo | 2013/12/02

The Santos Tramway Or Some Thoughts On Latin American Mass Transit Deficit

A 15 km long tramway line is being built in the Brazilian city of Santos, famous for its huge seaport. Santos is not that small. According to official stats, 419,400 people lived in the city in 2010 and more than 1,7 million are estimated to be living in the metropolitan region of Baixada Santista. Despite having the biggest seaport in Latin America and despite being the centre of a metropolitan region with over 1,7 million people, it doesn’t have a modern, integrated mass transit system.
It’s not until now that they decide to build a rail system. But 15 km for a population of at least 1,7 million people in the metropolitan region? 15 km is usually what towns and cities with a population of 100,000- 150,000 people tend to build. Just take a look at the Aubagne Tramway. Aubagne alone has 47,000 inhabitants and the agglomeration of Pays d’Aubagne et de l’Etoile has 104,000 inhabitants.

Unfortunately, this is all too typical for most of Latin America. In Brazil alone there are more than 16 cities where each and one of them has a population of 1 million people or more. Few of these cities have something that is a modern, integrated mass transit system. Needless to say that historically speaking, the infamous bus lobby has been very influential and powerful throughout the continent. What’s the outcome? An enormous amount of cities and towns, encumbered with buses (mostly old) and cars spewing out exhaust on poorly paved, or even unpaved streets. Now compare it with Western Europe. You can’t.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Buses are still needed and constitute a part of mass transit systems, but please, don’t put them everywhere. Serious studies have to be made first. For real.

The Santos Tramway (U/C).

Image Source: Via Trolebus

Trams are being manufactured by Vossloh España.

Image Source: Via Trolebus

Mock up Station.



  1. […] you may have noticed, I’ve already mentioned the future Santos Tramway, it’s now the turn of the coming Santos Cable Car […]


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