Need to get to the gym? Taxis are expensive and can eat into your budget if you use them regularly.
The extensive bus network in Rio is the most popular option for commuters and for anyone who wants to train BJJ in Rio. Buses can get incredibly busy at certain times of the day as hundreds of thousands of people are ferried across the city to their workplaces and homes.
Catching a bus
Buses crisscross the city and are surprisingly easy to use once you become familiar with the system. Bus stops can be found on almost every major street (with the exception of those that run along the beaches, though you can still catch a bus on the beach).
The numbers of the buses that serve each stop will be clearly marked; you will need to check carefully if the bus you want stops there, as many buses that share the same route do not use the same stops. In addition to their individual service number, buses are marked either BRS 1, 2 or 3, which determines which stops they pick up and drop off passengers.
If you’re at the beach, hail a bus by standing near the road and clearly signalling to them as they approach. If multiple buses arrive and yours is at the back, wave behind the lead bus as best you can. Vans will often overtake buses and block the stops to try and get passengers (they work on a commission basis and need to carry as many people as possible). Just keep waving at your desired bus and hopefully he will pick you up.
Buses accept cash and will give change, though try to pay in coins or small bills – trying to pay with anything bigger than a R$10 note will get you a dirty look from the driver and you’ll hold up the line. The standard fare is R$2.75 per journey, which you will either pay to the driver or to an attendant.
Once you’ve paid you’ll pass through a turnstile into the seating area of the bus. You always exit through doors located to the rear of the bus.
Buses can have different fares though depending on if they are an express service, if they have comfier than normal seats or air conditioning. Prices for buses rarely rise about $R5.00, though some cross-city coaches such as the airport bus can be as expensive as R$13.00.
There will be buttons on the poles or a cord running above the hand rail. Signal to the driver when you want them to stop by either pressing said button or pulling the cord.
A note on bus drivers
Whatever training bus drivers in Rio have, it is insufficient. They’re moody, drive like maniacs and are mostly apathetic to the needs of passengers. Buses only stop when requested, and then only if they’re in the mood! They will often fly past a stop full of people even if the poor souls are frantically hail him from the sidewalk.
A wild experience
Your first few bus rides in Rio will be a wild experience, especially if it’s busy and you don’t have a seat. Hang on for dear life as buses veer round corners without braking and expect to be thrust up against fellow passengers (personal space disappears on the buses).
As crazy as they sound, buses in Rio aren’t as bad as all that. It’s simply a case of getting used to them and finding your preferred routes and services.
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