Brazil’s São Paulo State Governor Geraldo Alckmin inaugurated extensions at both ends of Santos’ VLT line on 31 January, completing the 11.5km (7.1-mile) first stage of the city’s light rail network. Regular service began the following day, despite ongoing works in the vicinity of some stations.
At the eastern end, three stops have been added from Bernardino to Conselheiro Nébias; continuation to a new terminus at Porto do Santos is due to open at the end of February. In the west, a one-stop extension from Mascarenhas de Moraes to Barreiros opened on the same day.
The line is now integrated with 37 city bus lines and it is hoped that ridership will increase from the current average of 6000 passengers/day to closer to the projected figures of 35 000/day.
Santos VLT currently has 18 Tramlink LRVs, 15 in operation with a further three in the testing phase. A total of 22 of the 43.7m bi-directional vehicles were ordered from a consortium of T’Trans and Vossloh (now Stadler Rail) in 2012. Each 100% low-floor vehicle accommodates up to 408 passengers, 74 seated, and is equipped with batteries for catenary-free operation on a city centre section of the route. Services run at ten-minute intervals, with Governor Alckmin confirming on 31 January that the current 07.00-19.00 operating hours will be extended to 05.30-23.30 from April.
Planned since the end of the last decade, VLT construction began in 2012 with trials beginning in April 2015 between Mascarenhas de Moraes and João Ribeiro. A phased introduction saw the route reach Pinheiro Machado in January 2016; a new integrated control centre opened five months later, with a further one-stop eastwards from Bernardino to Pinheiro Machado following that December.