Brazil bus driver strike strands many in Rio

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Associated Press

Posted on May 13, 2014 at 11:06 AM

Updated Tuesday, May 13 at 11:10 AM

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Bus drivers demanding higher pay began a 48-hour strike in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday, forcing hundreds of thousands of passengers in Brazil's second-largest city to seek alternative ways to get to work.

The strike renewed concerns about public services and safety in Rio and the other cities that will host World Cup games starting in less than a month.

Rio bus drivers staged a 24-hour strike last week and warned they would walk off their jobs again if officials failed to meet their demands, which include a 40 percent pay hike.

Rio Onibus, the trade association representing Rio de Janeiro's bus companies, said more than 70 buses were damaged by rock-throwing strikers who also paralyzed traffic in parts of the city with road blocks and demonstrations. Last week more than 300 buses were damaged.

Police said six people were arrested after throwing rocks and pieces of wood at buses. Another two were detained for trying to stop buses driven by non-striking drivers from circulating.

Rio Onibus press officer Alexandre Almeida said the strike prevented 84 percent of the city's nearly 9,000 buses from circulating. Nearly 1.9 million people use these buses every day to get to and from work.

Almeida said the strike "slowed things down" but did not bring Rio to a standstill.

"Many managed to get to work or to school by car pooling and using the subway system, public transit vans, commuter trains and intercity buses," he said by telephone.

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