Different Environments


Although the São Paulo railway system comprises 182 stations over 369 km, the CPTM and Metrô only intersect at eight stations, which reduces the integration capacity of the two systems. For this study, certain characteristics differentiating the two systems are important. The first of these is the construction itself. The CPTM trains, having inherited the old railway lines, all run at ground level, with no underground lines. This feature creates particularities in the environment’s sonic characteristics as well as leading to the audibility of sounds coming from the outside. The subway lines, on the other hand, are mostly underground, contributing to more closed and reverberant sounds.


Another significant difference pertains to the regions served by the lines. The CPTM trains were part of the railroads that connected São Paulo to different surrounding municipalities. Therefore, they connect the city center with the suburbs. Isoda (2013: 20) notes that a suburb can be conceptualized as an urban space separated from the center of a metropolis, arising from the impossibility of a part of the population to live in the center. However, he points out that, in the case of Greater São Paulo, due to the growth of the cities, during the commute there is no passing through a rural zone, i.e., there is no spatial discontinuity, common in other urban centers. There is no longer the perception of distinct spaces, but rather an urban continuum. That being said, each destination, as they are different municipalities, maintains its particularities, a certain residual flavor of the small city that was incorporated into the metropolis. The subway lines, on the other hand, were built specifically to serve the neighborhoods of São Paulo. They are therefore more impersonal, remaining, as much as possible, an architectural and functional unit expressing a homogenous operational identity desired by a single company.


One last difference is related to the greater presence of street vendors (an officially prohibited activity) on the CPTM’s carriages, probably due to the open-air characteristics of the ground level stations. In the subway, on the other hand, the spaces are enclosed and more easily controlled by the inspectors.