Rio Metro

Rio’s Metro system is like someone got halfway through the project and just kinda lost interest. The system is built for massive throughput, the stations are huge and the trains are full sized and at 6-8 cars, a single train can move almost 2,500 people.

But, like Buenos Aires, the system in Rio is a bit half-assed, ~50km of track and ~50 stations for a city of 12,000,000 people isn’t enough to make a huge impact on transit.

The older Brazilian built 1000 series trains.

Rio’s transit system also has a set of tram lines running mostly around the downtown and waterfront. I probably spent more time on the trams than underground on the subway itself. 

While riding the trams I began to notice an amusing and strange set of announcements. The English translations of announcements on the tram, and eventually I noticed on the metro too, feature a woman’s voice seemingly eternally mocking either the English speaking tourist, or the transit system or Rio itself. 

The newer Chinese trains

Some announcements are normal but in a lot of them her voice drips with a kind of Willy Wonkaesque playful sarcasm…

  1. On the metro she occasionally sarcastically warns you to “mind the gap” when you get off, the same iconic announcement from the London Underground. The thing is, the London Underground features warnings about the gap between the train and the platform….. because there is a gap between the train and the platform. Rio’s teasing announcer lady’s recording warns you to mind the gap, where there is none, the train doors open flush with the platform.
  1. Her voice alerts you to other connecting transit stations as you arrive, but with the funniest message, she says either “depart here to connect to our VERRRY good tram” or “depart here to connect to our VERY EXCITING tram” in the exact tone of voice of someone mocking… something.
  1. Most transit systems that feature English announcements will fudge the pronunciation of place names somewhat so it’s what an English speaker would expect, rather than the exact local pronunciation. It sometimes sounds funny but makes sense for the purpose of the announcements. Not so in Rio, when her voice comes on, again just soaked in ironic detachment, and let’s you know the next station is “Coonda-Lion Station” it’s up to you to figure out she is referring to “Cinelandia Station” and is just using the hardcore Rio accented Portuguese pronunciation.
Rio Tram

After a week in Rio I was completely in love with the English transit announcement robot lady voice, her eternal mocking was usually my first smile of the day each day I was there. At one point I cheered out loud for a particularly biting announcement, to the surprise of the riders around me.

Rio Metro Station Map

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