The 'Free Pass Movement' rejected a 7.5% increase in the prices of rain, metro and bus tickets.
Amid strong police deployment, Brazilians demonstrated Thursday against increases in public transportation fares in Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city. The protest was organized by the Passe Livre Movement (MPL) - Free Pass Movement - which rejected a 7.5% hike in the prices of train, metro and bus tickets.
As a result of the new increase, public transport fare is currently US$1.16 a trip. The MPL march began at the Municipal Theater and toured the city shouting "come to the streets against the increase!"
The protesters displayed placards with messages including "the salary decreases but the rate increases," "say no to the cuts" and "BolsoDoria wants to rob the people."
The latter banner refers to Sao Paulo's new Governor Joao Doria, who used the nickname "BolsoDoria" - during the last electoral campaign - to take advantage of the support for the far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro.
According to Rafael Calabria, an urban mobility researcher at the Brazilian Institute of Consumer Protection, the latest hike was a wrong choice since local authorities prefer to increase tariffs instead of lowering collective transportation costs.
“The hike was seen as the only option. Inflation, however, happens every year. The municipality and the state government need to find ways to finance transportation costs so that they do not have to charge the user for the fare,” Calabria said and added that “the City Hall is using maneuvers and creating data to try to reduce the impact of what it did.”
A gente precisa questionar qual é o modelo de transporte público e direito à cidade que temos hoje. O salário mínimo foi reajustado abaixo da inflação mas as tarifas em São Paulo foram reajustadas acima da inflamação. A quem interessa esse aumento? 4,30 não da! pic.twitter.com/CCTdCzTFTP— Carina Vitral (@carinavitral) January 10, 2019
"We need to question what public transportation model and right-to-the-city we have today. The minimum wage was readjusted below inflation but Sao Paulo's rates were readjusted above inflation. Who cares about this increase? Not 4.30!"
"The rate increase is purely political because transportation is a right, like education and health. And like all rights, it does not have to be charged," Sofia Sales, a 21-year-old student, said.
The march was peaceful for most of its duration. However, the militarized police intervened at night, at one point throwing tear gas canisters at some demonstrators.
Movement leaders wanted to end the demonstration in the 'Cyclist's square,' but police command isolated and cordoned off the area, which prevented protestors from continuing to their final destiny.
The MPL social movement defends the right to free transportation for all citizens and was germane to the massive 2013 protests that took place throughout Brazil during the FIFA Confederations Cup.