Guardians of Mobility: from the front lines in Sao Paulo, Brazil

There are many “unsung heroes” in times of crisis, and we recognise that our public transport professionals are some of them. Our ‘Guardians of Mobility’, are an integral part of the front liners keeping essential services available throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Over the course of these next few weeks, we will be sharing stories from our own community on what’s being done to keep public transport operations running around the world, and to shed a little light on our sector’s contribution to fighting this pandemic.

Today, we hear from BR7 Mobilidade sharing experiences from São Bernardo do Campo, in São Paulo, Brazil.

BR7 Mobilidade

Moving to the Latin America region, São Bernardo do Campo is a city in the metropolitan region of São Paulo, Brazil, with a population of more than 800 thousand inhabitants and a municipal bus system, with a fleet of 420 and 250 thousand passengers per day.

The BR7 Mobilidade bus operator in the city (formerly known as SBC Trans Group), fully convinced of the role it had to play in the face of the pandemic scenario, entered into full negotiation with the mayor so that he would recognise that the system could not stop and that it was an essential service for many health professionals and other necessary services, such as grocery stores, and other emergency services.

“We knew that citizens would need to rely on public transport services now more than ever”, said Milena Braga Romano, Executive Director of BR7 Mobilidade. “We refused to stop this essential service in the community’s time of need.”

"We refused to stop this essential service in the community’s time of need"

In 48 hours, the mayor recognised that the total stoppage of the public transport system would not be productive, establishing that bus service would be carried out with 50% of the fleet at peak times and 30% at other times of the day. There would also be a reduction on weekends, 30% of buses in operation during peak hours, and 15% for the rest of the day.

With this information, BR7 Mobilidade began an intense task of informing passengers via various media and social media channels with the sole objective of minimising the panic that occurred with the announcement of the public transport system not working in the coming days. They used a strong slogan: "WE WILL NOT STOP".

The bus operator was not limited to a single mobility action. As a large team of staff would not be able to work in their traditional functions, they invited various local collaborators to act together in solidarity with the city's risk group citizens. For example, a staff group, together with professional seamstresses, began to produce masks, which are being distributed to everyone in the risk group who have to use the bus service.

"the public transport service surpassed the mobility frontier, with the team fully motivated

In another act of solidarity with the community, BR7 Mobilidade began another service, with the slogan: “We can do it for you”. Any citizen in the city more than 60 years old, who needs an essential service, such as buying food, going to the pharmacy or other needs, can call a municipal assistance telephone number and a staff from the bus operator company will collaborate so that this person does not need to leave home.

As Milena Braga comments, the initiative came from one of the group's employees, and she immediately applied it to the entire company. And she continues affirming “There is no doubt that BR7 Mobilidade transformed the crisis into an opportunity, the public transport service surpassed the mobility frontier, with the team fully motivated in a social action recognised by the city community."

Thank you to our Guardians of Mobility in São Paulo, who go above and beyond for the sake of their community!

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UITP is doing its part to support the public transport sector in this unprecedented time. Please see our dedicated webpage on all of our activities surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic for more information on what's available.