Photo: Benjámin Zelki

BRAZIL: Rio de Janeiro tram concessionaire VLT Carioca has said that it could cease operations of the city’s tram network if the municipality does not cover a shortfall in revenue caused by lower than expected ridership.

According to the PPP concession awarded in 2013 to build the network and operate it for 25 years, the municipality would be required to make up any revenue shortfall in case of ridership lower than the expected 260 000 passengers a day. Ridership is currently 80 000 passengers a day, and the operator is claiming R$140m from the municipality.

The VLT Carioca consortium is made up of CCR, Invepar, Odebrecht Transport and RioPar, each of which has a 24·4% share, as well as BRT and RATP Dev. CCR has said that it is interested in buying out the other members, but only if the bus network were to be reorganised, as originally envisaged. The municipality is meanwhile reviewing VLT Carioca’s contract.

The first phase of the catenary-free tram network in Rio opened between Santos Dumont Airport and Parada dos Museos in June 2016. The final section has been ready to open since December, but its launch has been held up by the dispute. The operator expects ridership to grow to 150 000 passengers a day once this section opens.