Transportation – Part I
Travel by Cab or Private Car
If you decide to take a cab, make sure it is a yellow cab or at least a cab with a GPS, ensure that you have the name of the place you are going to on hand and sit and watch as the driver puts it into his GPS before you drive off. A cab may not always be the fastest means of travel, depending on the time of day, but the yellow cab in particular, is the more reputable cab line. If you are not able to get a cab with a GPS, you should not let your cab driver know that you have never been to Brazil before; you are setting yourself up ‘to be taken.’ Get a Brazilian, preferably the Bellman or a Hotel Clerk to secure the cab. Always ask ahead of time what the approximate cost will be to travel to your destination. For example, I knew before I reached Brazil, that my ride via cab, to my destination, would be approximately R$90 (90 Reals = just over $37 U.S. dollars). Again we warn you that taking a cab can be a very expensive experience so whenever possible, we encourage you to take the metro. Please take note of the fact that the metro/subway systems are limited and may not cover the entire city or area where you may be visiting. So before leaving your hotel room, hostel, guest house etc. please consider the most affective means to and from your destination especially if you have a scheduled appointment or you have ‘to make time’ or you have to arrive at your destination at a specific time.
Case and Point: I was leaving a client about 6:45 p.m. one evening – I was not aware that the metro was just an 8-minute walk away. But since it was getting dark outside, another TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) Instructor offered to give me a ride. Now I did not know this person, but since the company security knew him and this was on record, I decided to accept the ride. It took us from 6:55 p.m. until 8:14 p.m., 1 hour and 19 minutes to drive across town. Had I walked to the train (8 minutes) and caught the metro (20 minutes) and then walked the 6 blocks (12 minutes) to the hostel where I was staying, it would have taken me a total of 40 minutes, just about half the time.
The time of travel is most critical especially in a city like Sao Paulo with a population of over 11 million people. As in any big city, ‘rush hour’ is no different. It may be a total nightmare for you if you are not used to it. Early morning rush hour in Sao Paulo is from about 7:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. and in the afternoon from about 3:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Try not to catch a cab during these hours. It will take double the time and may cost over 6 times the price than catching the metro.
Speaking about price, by getting a metro card, (the one I purchased was called a ‘Bilhete Unico’) you can save lots of money. These are purchased at a number of outlets that sell lottery tickets or in some train stations. They are all over the city. The great thing about the card is that if you get off one stop and you are at that location for under 2 hours, then your next ride via bus or train is FREE or at a discount. If you have cash, you will pay full fare each time.
Solution: To get around Brazil using the most reasonable means, take the metro and use a metro card. If you are not sure how to get from one point to another, use goggle maps, where you can input your current location and your new destination. It will give you several choices on how to get there, via bus, metro, or walking. You can even put in the time of travel and it will give you an idea of how long the trip will take for that time of day or evening, and it will give you the cost of transportation.