| BRASILIA, July 31
BRASILIA, July 31 President Dilma Rousseff moved
quickly on Wednesday to improve bus services in Brazil's largest
city, Sao Paulo, where protests over a fare increase in June
triggered an outburst of national discontent that battered her
Rousseff announced that 3 billion reais ($1.31 billion) in
federal money will be invested in creating 99 km (61 miles) of
new express lanes to speed up bus services in Sao Paulo, the
country's financial capital.
"Brazilian cities cannot expect people to spend six hours of
their life every day in a bus," she said at an event in Sao
Paulo where she also announced more funds to clean up the city's
filthy creeks and rivers.
It was a protest over a planned increase in bus fares in Sao
Paulo that set off a month-long wave of massive protests against
Brazil's high cost of living, poor public services, corruption
and the misuse of government money.
One million Brazilians took to the streets at the peak of
the protests, rocking the country's political establishment and
undermining Rousseff's popularity to the point where her chances
of re-election next year are now unclear.
Deficient public transport, a major cause of anger for
Brazilians who endure long commutes to get to work or study, has
resulted from decades of neglect and lack of investment that
left Brazil with such dilapidated infrastructure that it has
become an obstacle to economic growth.
The funds for bus lanes were already earmarked by Rousseff's
government in its investment program to speed up the country's
Since the protests, and with elections emerging on the
horizon, Rousseff has been under pressure to boost spending, at
a time when she is trying to regain credibility as a fiscally
Sporadic protests and rioting have continued in Sao Paulo
and Rio de Janeiro to demand the ouster of the governors of
Rousseff made the announcement about the investment
alongside Sao Paulo's mayor Fernando Haddad, a rising star in
her ruling Workers' Party.
She said 55 percent of Sao Paulo's 11 million inhabitants
rely on public transport and Sao Paulo has the smallest metro
underground train system in the world for a city of its size.
Rousseff announced additional investments of 3.6 billion to
drain and clean up eight filthy creeks and recover the springs
that feed two reservoirs that supply drinking water to the city.
Garbage, wastewater and unauthorized squatter settlements have
compromised the springs in recent years.
Rousseff's government will spend 1.5 billion reais to build
low-cost housing to resettle families living on the banks of the
creeks and reservoirs, she said.