Traffic Congestion: 180 km Traffic Jams in Sao Paulo

We previously covered traffic congestion across the United States, in Europe and in China. Residents of these areas have experienced the joy of traffic congestion that stretches many kilometers and increases their daily commute time substantially. Sao Paulo in Brazil is no exception.


Sao Paulo Congestion

Sao Paulo is located in the south of Brazil and is the seventh most populated city in the world. With a population of about 11.3 million people and over 7 million registered vehicles, Sao Paulo is no stranger to traffic congestion.

Drivers can experience commutes that are two hours or even longer depending upon where they are driving in the city. Friday evenings are the worst and commuters can experience traffic jams that extend 180km (112 miles). According to local traffic engineers, the worst traffic jams can extend 295km (183 miles).

The majority of traffic jams are on the 10 major Brazilian highways. Traffic congestion is fairly common throughout the city as population grew quickly in the 1940’s and continued to grow significantly for the next few decades. As a result, the transportation network was built quickly to accommodate the population growth at that time, with little planning or future growth in mind.

The city currently has several options for public transit including buses, trains, and subway. The subway is considered one of the best systems but is grossly overcrowded, peaking at 11.5 million passengers for every mile of line. For executives and the affluent, helicopter commuting to the office and between meetings is now common practice as well.

As a result of this intense traffic congestion, residents of Sao Paulo experience:

  • Long commute times
  • High air pollution due to idling vehicles
  • Poor quality of roads, especially in the outskirts of the city
  • Difficulty in conducting business that requires travel (i.e. deliveries, visiting clients, etc.)

This is a screen shot of Sao Paulo traffic at 5 pm on Tuesday, October 2, 2012. As you can see, traffic is already building on a number of main highways across the city.


Dealing with Congestion

No major city will ever eliminate congestion, but cities can take steps in order to maximize their current transportation network’s capacity or to expand it effectively. Completing traffic studies and collecting data to understand current use, volumes and peak periods can be applied to future construction projects.

Within the city, traffic engineers can collect turning movement counts and average daily traffic in order to understand how intersections are being used and the volumes of roads. This can also be applied to optimize signals and reduce queues at intersections.

For highways, traffic engineers can deploy ALPR traffic studies, which collect time-stamped vehicle plate data. Various traffic studies such as travel time and origin-destination provide data around the amount of time to travel from one destination to another as well as the most heavily travelled routes. This information can be applied to city planning, allocating budget for construction and creating alternative routes for heavily clogged highways.

Miovision has customers all over the globe including Brazil and other countries in South America. We provide innovative solutions to accurately capture traffic data which can be applied to various transportation projects.

Although traffic congestion will always be in issue, traffic engineers can strive towards making the most valuable investments in their infrastructure with the resources available to them.


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