How to Get a Bus Pass in Rio De Janeiro

Photo of a Public Bus in Rio De Janiero

Photo of a Public Bus in Rio De Janiero

With more than one thousand lines running throughout the city, traveling by bus can be an efficient but sometimes confusing way to navigate the streets of Rio de Janeiro. With just a simple understanding of the fare system and bus routes, however, travelers will be able to explore the city and maximize their time and travel budget in this rewarding and fascinating destination.

• Types of Bus Passes

The Bilhete Único Intermunicipal, or RioCard Transportation Pass, is an all-purpose pass that allows travelers access to subway trains, ferries and overland trains, in addition to use as bus fare, as long as there is overlap between the different transportation companies. It can be used up to eight times per day, and once the card is registered online, loaded with cash as needed via the Internet. This pass is perfect for travelers who anticipate heavy use of all forms of transportation across multiple days.

The Bilhete Único Carioca has a more limited range, allowing use only on the Metro, trains and buses, rather than all forms of public transportation as the Bilhete Único Intermunicipal does. It is essentially a single-fare ticket. Passengers are only allowed two uses within a two-hour period and only as long as the uses are on two different buses or trains. This card is perfect for those who are planning an afternoon of sight-seeing that requires only limited bus or train use.

• Obtaining a Bus Pass

You can get a pre-charged bus pass by going to a Lojas RioCard, specific points of sale, or an Itaú Bank (specific agencies). To find the nearest point of sale, go to this site and click “Lojas.”

As with any important transaction you do, you will need to have a CPF number in order to activate the prepaid bus pass. After activating the card, it will be ready to use in 48 hours.

Bus passes can also be ordered and pre-loaded over the Internet prior to travel, although travelers should allow a minimum of seven days to receive their card through the post and will have to register their card online upon receiving it, or it will remain invalid. 

With plenty of lines and designated bus lanes, traveling by bus is one of the quickest ways to explore the most popular parts of the city, such as the Zona Sul, or South Zone. The lines most visitors find themselves using are 583 and 584; with service between Ipanema, Copacabana and the Corcovado Train Station, both lines are perfect for exploring many of the main tourist hot spots.

Be sure to also check out my post on short term apartments in Rio De Janeiro and also my article on the best online dating sites in Brazil. Tchau!

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About Addison Sears-Collins

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