Sao Paulo Traffic at Record as World Cup Opener Nears

Sao Paulo’s infamous traffic jams just got a whole lot worse.

The Sao Paulo traffic authority, known as CET, said there were 251 kilometers (156 miles) of vehicles snaking through the city of 11.8 million people at 10:30 a.m., an all-time high for that time of day, as metro workers struck for a second straight day, according to its press office.

The standstill partially shut down a major transport system less than a week before the city hosts the kick-off game for the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament. Televised images yesterday showed frustrated commuters tearing down gates in subway stations.

Three of the subway’s five lines were partially shut today, its operator, Cia. do Metropolitano de Sao Paulo, said on its website. The company called the strike an act of “cruelty” that “cowardly imposes one more day of suffering on the population and make more evident the union’s irresponsibility,” according to a separate statement yesterday.

Subway workers will meet today at 5 p.m to decide whether to continue the strike, according to the union’s press office. They are seeking a larger increase in wages than proposed by the company. Brazil’s homeless movement canceled a protest planned for today at Sao Paulo’s Morumbi stadium, where Brazil will play Serbia in a warm-up match.

Jerome Valcke, secretary general of soccer’s governing body FIFA, said yesterday the tournament could co-exist with demonstrations.

“We have to make sure both events can take place without affecting the other,” Valcke told reporters in Sao Paulo.

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