On the Sao Paulo Metro underground rail service the Yellow Line or Linha Amarela serves the Faria Lima station. It’s been open for two years, serving a mixture of offices on Avenida Faria Lima, and smaller businesses and residences around Rua Teodoro Sampaio. A busy station, it is designed to connect with bus services which go through the terminal nearby, though much of the development of the surrounding terrain is still to be done.

A long queue for buses; helicopters clatter overhead, afternoon rain clouds mass

It is the first Sao Paulo line to be built privately. Delays caused by accident – a tunnel collapsed – and subsequent investigation and, it’s said, by the slow process of compulsory purchase, have also affected the opening of the next station at Pinheiros, still under construction.

Police and traders share welcome shade at the Faria Lima bus terminal

The stations and trains are up-to-the-minute, with glass platform barriers (like the Jubilee Line in London). Rolling stock is supplied by Hyundai. The architecture makes good use of raw concrete and brightly coloured tilework and signage. The lighting is bright without being intrusive.

Ticket barriers, Faria Lima station

Travellers pay a flat R$3 fare, insert the ticket in the barrier and pass through the turnstile. Season tickets use RFID. A simple system which seems to work smoothly.

Platform Faria Lima

The station is cool and clean, people move quickly but without stress. The carriages are bright, with stainless steel grab rails, plastic and fabric seating, advertising screens and service announcements.

Light shafts, Paulista station

Rolling walkways connect with other lines. One stop up the line is Consolacao and Paulista, an interchange station. Here too the architecture is spacious and bright, with plenty of visual interest.

Up to street level exit onto Rua da Consolacao

At the exit looking back

Looking down the light well

If all the lines are built to this standard, Sao Paulo has reason to hope that its infrastructure problems can be addressed, before, during and after the Olympic Games and the World Cup.

Platform tunnel, Paulista

Your journey takes you not just from station to station but from the old Sao Paulo to the new, and back. Integrating the two without losing the charm of the old or the convenience of the new is the challenge to which Sampa’s planners need to rise.

Faria Lima station exit at dusk