Sao Paulo Metro

From nycsubway.org


Metrô Line 2-Green train at Vila Madalena. Photo by Robert Ferreira.


The São Paulo City Subway is owned by the State of São Paulo and is operated by Companhia Do Metropolitano De São Paulo (São Paulo Subway Company). Simply known as the Metro to its commuters, the first line opened for revenue service 4 September 1974 on Line 1-Blue between Jabaquara and Vila Mariana. The Metro is the largest subway in South America and is considered one of the most advanced subways in the world. The first line was based heavily on San Francisco's BART system and the influence is noticeable on Line 1's fleet, whose front ends are nearly identical to BART's original Rohr cars. Currently, the Metro consists of four lines operated by the Metro: Line 1-Blue, Line 2-Green (opened 1991), Line 3-Red (1979), Line 5-Lilac (2002). One line operated by a private company (ViaQuatro): Line 4-Yellow. In addition, six lines operated by CPTM (Companhia Paulista de Trens Metropolitanos): 7-Ruby, 8-Diamond, 9-Emerald, 10-Turquoise, 11-Coral (Local service and express service, also known as "East Express") and 12-Sapphire. Lines are often referred by color instead of number.

The city's extensive bus network along with commuter rail help feed the Metro and vice versa, creating a comprehensive transportation network for the city. For example, the Metro station Pedro II has 67 bus routes that use the terminal adjacent to the station. The operating hours of the Metro are from 4:30am to midnight. The metro uses two ways of paying fare: 1) you can buy a single-ride ticket and just insert it on a turnstile. 2) you can buy the "Bilhete único" which is a card, similar to the Metrocard used in New York City. Using this card you'll pay R$3,00 (US$1,50) if you use only the subway. If you make a transfer to a bus you'll pay more R$1,65 (US$0,75) and the next 3 trips by bus or subway (excluding transfer on bus terminals or stations with free transfer) will be free in a period of 3 hours. In other words, paying R$4,65 (US$ 2,30) you can take a subway ride (no matter how many free transfers inside the system) and 3 bus trips (no matter how many free transfers) in a period of 3 hours. There are also available tickets including transfers to metropolitan buses (EMTU) and to bus corridor.

The Metro has the second highest ridership per route mile in the world, behind only Hong Kong. It is also one of the few subways in the world that operate with a profit. The Metro started making a profit in 1996, when revenues earned was 103.7% of the operating costs. In 2001, that figure was at 106.4%. Because the Metro operates like a private business, it has expanded its operations beyond providing subway service. The Metro earns revenue from sources such as leasing inter-city bus terminals, and three shopping malls at three Metro stations where it receives leasing payments from the stores. The company also is contracted for services for other subways in South America, including Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro.

Even with the high number of passengers, the SP Metro performs its task of transporting 3.7 million passengers on an average weekday without breaking a sweat. The trains are fully automated and controlled by a central computer. Trains on Lines 1, 2 and 3 can reach speeds of 100 km/h (62mph), while trains on Lines 4 and 5 reach speeds up to 80 km/h (50mph).  Trains have one operator at the front of the train to oversee operation. Doors can be opened and closed by the computer, or the T/O may manually operate them. Closed circuit cameras monitor the platform to make sure the doors are clear. If the train needs to be operated in manual, the maximum permitted speed is 20 km/h. The platform length for each station is 136m (446 ft), enough for a six-car train. Average design capacity is 1350 passengers/train, with a crush capacity of 2000 passengers/train. Headways on the two busiest lines, Lines 1 and 3, are about 100 seconds, while on the 4 line the headway is 75 seconds.

The trains are maintained at Jabaquara (Line 1), Corinthians-Itaquera (Line 3), at Vila Sônia (line 4) and Capão Redondo (Line 5). There is also a small maintenance facility at the end of Line 2, Delamare Yard. Trains of lines 7 and 8 are stored at Lapa. For line 9 trains are stored at Presidente Altino. For lines 10 11 and 12 trains are stored at Luz and Engenheiro São Paulo I and II. On Lines 1, 2 and 3, the track gauge is a non standard 1600 mm, the third rail is 750V DC and under running. For Lines 4 and 5, the track gauge is 1435 mm and they use overhead pantograph, precluding any connection to the rest of the system, plus the 4 and 5 lines can't connect because the trains on the 4 line use drive-less technology while trains on 5 line are OPTO. Lines 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 (operated by CPTM) are all 1600mm and use overhead pantograph.

Construction of the Metro consisted of cut and cover type tunnel early in the system's history. Lines 1 and 3 are mostly of this type. Later on, tunnel boring machines were used in the construction of Line 2 and nearly all tunnel construction now uses this type of method. Stations in the system are attractive, modern, safe and clean. Stations typically have either marble or rubber flooring and concrete is the dominant building material. The stations are designed to move a large amount of people quickly. For example, the busiest station in the system, Sé, is designed to handle a peak of 100,000 people an hour. Most of the typical side platform stations can handle 20,000 people an hour.

The Fleet


Manufacturer Year Operating Line Number of cars Fleet designation
Budd / Marfesa 1972/1974 1-Blue 210 A
Cobrasma 1982/1986 3-Red 78 C
Marfesa 1986/1988 3-Red 78 D
Alstom 1998/1999 2-Green 66 E
Alstom 2001/2002 5-Lilac 48 F
Alstom 2008/2010 2-Green 96 G
CAF 2008/2010 1-Blue & 3-Red 102 H
Alstom/Siemens 2012 1-Blue 54 I (A fleet refurbished)
Bombardier / Tejofran / Temoinsa 2011/2012 1-Blue 54 J (A fleet refurbished)
T'Trans / MPE / Temoinsa 2011/2012 3-Red 72 K (C fleet refurbished)
Alstom / Iesa 2011/2012 3-Red 48 L (D fleet refurbished)


Manufacturer Year Operating Line Number of cars Fleet designation
Rotem 2008/2010 4 - Yellow 174


Manufacturer Year Operating Line Number of cars Fleet designation
Budd / Marfesa 1956/1957 7 66¹ 1100
Budd / Marfesa 1976/1977 7 & 12 24¹ 1400
Budd / Marfesa 1978 7 & 12 36¹ 1600
Marfesa 1987 7 80 1700
CAF 1999/2000 11 120 2000
Alstom 2007/2008 9 & 12 48 2070
CAF 1974/1977 10 128 2100
Siemens 2000/2001 9 40² 3000
Cobrasma/FNV/CISM 1964/1965 11/12 96 4400
ACEC / Bombardier 2008 12 24 5550
CAF 2009/2010 7 9 11 & 12 321 7000
CAF 2011 9 64 7500
CAF 2011/2013 8 240³ 8000

Notes: 1: Many retired 2: Some retired to refurbishment 3: Not all delivered

Route Map

Sao Paulo Metro Route Map

Official Route Map.

Line by Line

Lines Operated by the Metrô

Linha 1-Azul/Line 1-Blue. Originally called the North-South line, this was the first subway in the system. It opened 4 September 1974 between stations Jabaquara and Vila Mariana. The line was then extended to Santana in 1975, and the final segment to Tucuruvi was opened in 1998. Line 1 has 23 stations and is 20.2 km long. Most of the side platform stations between Jabaquara and São Bento look very similar using concrete and the same colorful patterns on the walls. One feature this line shares is with Line 2-Green is at the stations Ana Rosa and Paraíso. At Ana Rosa, the station is set up in a 4 track, 2 island platform layout, with a wall separating the two lines. At Paraíso, the Line 1 northbound track is on the upper level by itself. On the lower level, Line 1 southbound shares an island platform with Line 2 northbound and Line 2 southbound is on a side platform. The line's fleet consists of 348 cars made Budd and Mafersa. The front ends these cars look remarkably similar to San Francisco's BART Rohr cars, mainly because the system was based heavily on BART. The front ends used to be white, but they were painted blue in the late 90s. The cars were originally in two car pairs, but they were since permanently coupled in six-car sets. For peak service trains run at 109 second headways. Maximum speed allowed is 100 km/h (62mph). 982,000 passengers use this line every day.

Linha 2-Verde/Line 2-Green. The first segment opened 25 January 1991 between Paraíso and Cosolação. In 1992, Ana Rosa and Clínicas opened. Sumaré and Vila Madalena began service in 1998. Unlike Line 1, the stations on this line are different from each other. The station Sumaré is like Atlanta's MARTA Civic Center station: both are elevated above a highway and run parallel underneath a surface street. The line now operates between Vila Madalena and Vila Prudente, where its planned to extend the line west. This line runs under Paulista Avenue. The line 2 is considered an empty line with a daily ridership of 428,000 passengers. The headways on this line are 132 seconds.

Linha 3-Vermelha/Line 3-Red. Previously known as the East-West line, the name Line 3 is sort of a misnomer because this was the second line to open. The first segment opened 10 March 1979 with only three stations: Sé, Pedro II and Brás. One or two station segments were added until the final two stations, Marechal Deodoro and Barra Funda, were completed in 1988. The line now operates between Palmeiras – Barra Funda and Corinthians – Itaquera. Most of the line is above ground, unlike Lines 1 and 2. Between Sé and Marechal Deodoro is the only major tunnel section. This line acts as the local service to the Line 11-Coral (CPTM). During rush hour, many stations on this line have several station supervisors controlling the flow. This line is 22 km long and has 18 stations. During rush hour, trains run every 100 seconds. The Line 3 is considered the most crowded in the world. You'll never see an empty train here, even during midday trains are crowded. Even with a not big length it carries 1,1 million passengers daily. This line has a interesting setup for crowded stations. 3 platforms. Two on the side and one on the middle of the tracks. When a train stops, left doors open on the center platform where people get off and then right doors open where people board on the train, to keep a better traffic flow inside the trains.

Linha 5-Lilás/Line 5-Lilac. Line 5 is all-new, but what separates it from Lines 1-4 is that it was built by the CPTM, with the Metro operating it since day one, 20 October 2002. While it was under construction, it was dubbed Line G. In many of the commuter train, maps still show this line as Line G. So far, only Phase I has opened for service, which consists of 9.4 route km and six stations: Capão Redondo, Campo Limpo, Vila das Belezas, Giovanni Gronchi, Santo Amaro and Largo 13. The station Santo Amaro has the distinction of being the first and only subway station in the world that is on a cable-stay bridge. Like Line 4, this line has a track gauge of 1435 mm and has an overhead catenary power supply. Phase II will add 11.5 km and 10 stations to reach Santa Cruz on Line 1. When the extension of Line 2 is completed, Line 5 will be extended by one station to reach Line 2. For a while the line has only one transfer point: Santo Amaro, where passengers must transfer to Line 9 to continue their trip, making the Line 9 even more crowded. The headways on Line 5 are about 3 minutes; even with only six stations, it has a good ridership since it serves some important bus terminals. The daily ridership is 213,000 passengers.

Lines Operated by ViaQuatro

Linha 4-Amarela/Line 4-Yellow. The Line 4 is the most modern of Latin America, it opened in 2010. The track gauge is international standard of 1435 mm, with power supply provided by a overhead catenary. Perhaps the biggest highlight of this line is that this line is privately financed. For the first 20 years of operation, it will be owned and operated by a private company (ViaQuatro), reaping all profits from it. After the 20 years, it will be turned over to the state and be operated by the Metro. The line is already operating, but it is still under construction. The construction was set in 2 phases. Phase one is already done, with six stations operating: Butantã, Pinheiros, Faria Lima, Paulista, República and Luz. For phase two, other five stations will be done until 2014: Higienópolis-Mackenzie, Oscar Freire, Fradique Coutinho, São Paulo-Morumbi and Vila Sônia. All stations on this line have platform doors. Trains use driverless technology associated with CBTC, which allows a distance of just one car between trains if needed. The Line 4 has a great rail-fan view since the trains have not a cab on the ends, just a screen. The tunnels have a better lighting system. It's the only subway line in São Paulo where you can walk between cars. The headways on this line are 75 seconds. To enter on a station on this line you don't need to insert your ticket or tap your card on a turnstile. You just have to hold it in your hand and pass thru a block, which will detect your ticket/card and automatically discount one trip while the screen door open allowing your entrance without the need of stop to make the process.

Lines Operated by CPTM

CPTM is not a subway, it is a railway operating as a subway. Some lines began service operated by Metrô and are now operated by CPTM and vice-versa. It doesn't means a big change on service, every characteristic of the subway you'll find on CPTM. It isn't even separated of the Metrô and ViaQuatro lines. They operate together with free transfers and the same fares. For example: 3-Line is operated by the Metro, but acts as a local service for the 11-Line, operated by CPTM. The only differences are: CPTM lines are longer and have less frequent service.

Linha 7-Rubi / Line 7-Ruby. It was previously known as "Line A – brown", but all lettered lines were eliminated to unify the system. The Line 7 operates between Luz and Francisco Morato and Francisco Morato and Jundiaí. The stretch between Francisco Morato and Jundiaí is called "operating extension", it means that trains travel between Luz and Francisco Morato only. For service to Jundiaí, a less frequent service is provided by transferring at Francisco Morato. The track gauge for the Line 7 is 1600mm and trains operate on a 6 minutes headway on the main stretch. The main stretch has a daily ridership of 367,000 passengers and trains reach 90km/h (55mph). There are plans of eliminate the operating extension, making a Luz – Jundiaí trip with some short-turns at Francisco Morato, to eliminate the need of transferring.

Linha 8-Diamante / Line 8-Diamond. The Line 8, previously known as "Line B – gray" operates between Júlio Prestes and Itapevi, with shuttle bus service between Itapevi and Amador Bueno. The stretch between Itapevi and Amador Bueno used to bet an operating extension, but now it is deactivated to modernization to split service and eliminate the operating extension making a Júlio Prestes – Amador Bueno trip. The stretch between Itapevi and Amador Bueno used to be the slowest in the system. The headways are 6 minutes and the line carries 404,000 passengers every day.

Linha 9-Esmeralda / Line 9-Emerald. The Line 9, was known as "Line C – Azure" and one year before it changes to its current name it was "Line C – Emerald". Line 9 is one of the busiest CPTM lines since it is the only way to reach Line 5 and all its adjacent bus terminals. In addition, Line 9 is the fastest way to go to the southern region of São Paulo. Only Pinheiros station by itself carries over than 90,000 passengers every day. The entirely line get an amount of 475,000 passengers per day. The headways are 4 minutes on this line. There are plans to extend the line towards south, from Grajaú to Varginha, making the trip nearly 30 minutes faster for those who need to take a bus before the train.

Linha 10-Turquesa / Line 10-Turquoise. The Line 10 provides service to a region called ABC. It used to be known as Line D-Beige. Its one of the busiest lines of CPTM and will be the first CPTM line to get an express service. The new express service will be named "ABC express" and will operate between Luz and Mauá, while the local service will operate between Brás and Rio Grande da Serra. The line carries 500,000 passengers every day with headways of 6 minutes.

Linha 11-Coral / Line 11-Coral. The Line 11 is the express service of the Line 3 (operated by the Metrô). Service on this line is known as "East Express", since it serves the eastern region. The East Express operates between Luz and Guaianazes where a transfer to a local service is available to continue your trip between Guaianazes and Estudants. During rush-hour express service operates every 3 minutes, while local operates every 9 minutes.

Linha 12-Safira / Line 12-Sapphire. Line 12 is like a branch of Line 11. It operates from Brás, where Line 11 also stops, go north and then turn south and terminates at Calmon Viana, where transfer is available the Line 11 again. It is known as "East variant". Some stations on this line have old structures. Engenheiro Goulart station on Line 12 will be the terminal of the Line 13, which will go express to Guarulhos Airport. Though, by 2020, Line 13 will be extend towards Luz, sharing tracks with Line 12.

Future Plans/Construction

To alleviate crowding on the subway and to provide better service, the metrô is expanding its network. By 2014 some subway lines will be expanded and some new lines completed, as follows:

  • Line 2: Expand service to east from Vila Prudente to São Mateus, connecting to the bus corridor.
  • Line 4: Expand service to west from Butantã to Vila Sônia.
  • Line 5: Expand service to east from Largo 13 to Adolfo Pinheiro. (In 2015 to Chácara Klabin – free transfer to the line 2.).
  • Line 8: Expand service west from Itapevi to Amador Bueno.
  • Line 9: Expand service south from Grajaú to Varginha.
  • Line 10: Implement express service from Mauá to Luz.
  • Line 12: Build two new stations: União Vila Nova and Tiquatira (connection to bus corridor).
  • Line 13: New line from Guarulhos Airport to Engenheiro Goulart (Line 12).
  • Line 17: New line from Morumbi (Line 9) to Congonhas Airport and Jardim Aeroporto.

Map of proposed services in 2014.

By 2020 other expansion programs will be done on lines 2, 4, 6, 9, 15, and 18.

Photo Gallery

Five Random Images

Image 22092

(89k, 900x600)
Photo by: Robert Ferreira
Location: Brás

Image 22109

(68k, 800x533)
Photo by: Robert Ferreira
Location: Between Ana Rosa and Paraíso

Image 38472

(75k, 800x533)
Photo by: Robert Ferreira
Location: Guaianazes

Image 38476

(73k, 800x533)
Photo by: Robert Ferreira
Location: Santo André

Image 38482

(165k, 800x508)
Photo by: Robert Ferreira
Location: Capão Redondo

More Images: 1-50 51-63


Metro SP. Official site for the São Paulo Metro. A very good site that contains history, maps, overview of Metro technology with photos, tourist guide, guide for each station in the system, and much more. (Portuguese and English).

Official site of CPTM. (Avaliable in Portuguese only.)

Official site of ViaQuatro.

ViaQuatro's site has some images of the Line 4.

Wikipedia page with pictures and more detailed information about CPTM fleet.

Wikipedia page with pictures and more detailed information about Metrô fleet.

UrbanRail São Paulo. UrbanRail has a good map that shows the future and present extensions as well as a few photos.

São Paulo State Secretary for Metropolitan Transports. The STM is São Paulo's authority that oversees the different transport companies in the metropolitan region. This site has information about the company and the various extensions of the system.

Page Credits

By Robert Ferreira. Updated January 2012 by Tharcisiu Alves.

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