Metropolitan Regions of the State of São Paulo

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The State of São Paulo

The State of São Paulo, located in the Southeastern Region of Brazil, is the most important Federation unit. Although occupying less than 3% of the Brazilian territory, it has 21.5% of the population and accounts for 35% of the Gross Domestic Product and 44% of the Nation’s Industrial Product.

Concerning the foreign trade, the State is also a leader, accounting for 35% of the country’s exports, with a list composed, in 84%, by industrialized products. Its physical location, added to its economic strength, also assign to the State of São Paulo an important role of articulation and integration in the Southern Common Market - Mercosur.

The metropolitan regions of the State of São Paulo

The actuation area of the Metropolitan Transports Department comprises the metropolitan regions of the State of São Paulo, three institutionalized regions – the São Paulo Metropolitan Region, the Baixada Santista Metropolitan Region and the Campinas Metropolitan Region, which distinguish the State of São Paulo in the worldwide scenario.

By being practically conurbated and with interdependent economies, the three regions result in a macrometropolis, with characteristics that include it in the roll of the world’s metropolises, showing factors that cause it to be very competitive:

  • it is comprised of powerful urban centers, comprising about 22 million people, linked to the world by a very large and efficient communication system (especially of telecommunications);
  • communication infrastructure through metropolitan, road, railway, air and port transport;
  • state-of-the-art technological center of the country and of South America;
  • Country’s most important research and education center;
  • economic and business infrastructure center, much competitive and the only one in Mercosur.

This macrometropolis contains 67 cities in an area of 14,097 km² and has a total estimated population of 23,934,097 people (Seade, 2007). Such macro-region is non-continuous, because between the metropolitan regions of São Paulo and Campinas there is the Administrative Region of Jundiaí, composed by seven cities, which is out of these two regions. Such intermediate area is referred to as interstitial urban agglomeration by Empresa Paulista de Planejamento Metropolitano S.A. - Emplasa, with a strong presence of diversified industry.

Landsat image of the São Paulo State metropolitans regions.

São Paulo Metropolitan Region - SPMR


The São Paulo Metropolitan Region – SPMR has always been a strategic point for the interlinking of the Brazilian Southeastern and Central-Western regions. When climbing the scarp of the tableland, the Portuguese colonizer found rivers that flowed into the inland (Tietê, Pinheiros, Tamanduateí etc.). Many of the cities of the region arose from villages that have been formed along these important rivers, used as circulation media during the colonial period. Those rivers, together with some trains – many of them used by the Indians of the regions -, linked Santos and São Paulo to other villages of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Goiás, Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul.

At the highest point of the coffee production and significant growth of the City of São Paulo, the region's articulate role continued with the construction of the railways of the São Paulo Railway Company – linking the Port of Santos to Jundiaí – and the Paulista, Sorocabana and Central do Brasil railways, causing the region to be a node of links between the Port of Santos and the inland the State of São Paulo and Brazil, by basically using the same configurations of the colonial paths.

The current road infrastructure that interlinks the region's municipalities originated in these railways and in intermunicipal bus lines that traveled the old trails transformed into roads. It is that same road infrastructure that resulted in the current road systems that run into the Capital and link the three metropolitan regions of the State of São Paulo – Santos, São Paulo and Campinas, while the railway systems that pass through the three regions are restricted to the load transport, the passengers' transport being operating only in the São Paulo Metropolitan Region, to which the metro transport has been added in the 1970's.

The SPMR is outstanding as financial, industrial and commercial center of regional, national and global scope, besides being a technological pole of diversified research and consolidated cultural pole. This region concentrates the headquarters of large companies and the majority of the research and information producer centers existing in the Brazilian territory. For such purpose, it is considered as the informational metropolis, by the technical density it has in this area, "taking a strategic role, because it is the main center of production and control of the new wave of modernizations that re-organizes the Brazilian territory (Santos e Silveira, 2001: 429).

The SPMR is comprised of 39 cities, out of which 38 are grouped around the State Capital and are directly or indirectly polarized by it. It represents 3.4% of the total territory of the State, with an area of 8,051 km², concentrating 48.04% of the State population.

It is characterized by a continuous and organic conurbation of areas belonging to several cities, population concentration of about 19.5 million and the development of a complex system of concentration poles of tertiary activities at several levels.

The region's cities are grouped, by the State Department of Metropolitan Transport – STM, in seven sub-regions. The regional poles arose at the time of the region's historical formation.

Baixada Santista Metropolitan Region – BSMR


The BSMR, as a result of its port complex of regional, national and international scope, has an important petrochemical and steel-making pole, in addition to its strong tourist attraction, in several modalities – beach tourism, ecological, sporting, cultural and business tourism, which causes the floating population, at the weekends, holidays and in the vacations months, and especially the summer tourism, is twice larger than the fixed population.

The region is comprised of 9 cities: Bertioga, Cubatão, Guarujá, Itanhaém, Mongaguá, Peruíbe, Praia Grande, Santos and São Vicente. The region's agglutination pole is Santos. BSMR has 0.9% of the State territory, an area of 2,373 km², concentrating 4.1% of the State population.

The exacerbated growth of Santos, Cubatão and Guarujá, as a consequence of the development of commercial and service activities, employment-generator, caused a highly pendulum movement towards other cities with better conditions of inhabitation and available space. It is for such reason that the cities of São Vicente and Praia Grande, besides the District of Vicente de Carvalho, in Guarujá, acquired characteristics of bedroom-cities and were responsible for the intensive conurbation observed between the cities of the Baixada, prejudiced only by the physical restrictions (the channels of Santos estuary).

Besides its significant contribution for the configuration of the region's soil use, the Port of Santos, the main port of the country, is a strategic equipment of the national economic infrastructure for the distribution of several Brazilian and foreign products, especially petrochemical, steel products and also for the tourism industry. The petrochemical and steel-making activities also move the municipality of Cubatão. And the port activities of the Santos, at the right bank of the estuary, extend to the left margin, in the city of Guarujá, which is also important in the offer of tourism, commerce and related service activities.

Campinas Metropolitan Region – CMR


The cities that comprise the CMR have in common, like those of the São Paulo Metropolitan Region, the fact of having been originated from villages used as places of rest for the intensive interlinking activity between the Port of Santos and inland Brazil, route of expeditions and entries and trails of troopers. They have been formed generally along important rivers used in the circulation of people and goods, during the Colony Brazil. But there are also several municipalities that, at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, have been created as colonies organized to receive foreign immigrants, responsible for significant progress in the land use technology, plantation and also in the early industry. Such migration was made feasible especially in view of the railway infrastructure created for the flowing of the coffee production of that region, used later for the fixing of the urban centers of immigrant colonies.

But it cannot be denied that during the 20th century the region was expanded with the overflowing of the SPMR growth, especially as a result of the easy road communication between the two regions, which have the best Brazilian road system to interlink them.

The Campinas Metropolitan Region – CMR, is formed by 19 cities, out of which 18 are directly or indirectly polarized by Campinas. It represents 1.47% of the State territory, with an area of 3.673 km², concentrating 6.7% of the State population. The economy is based on the state-of-the-art industry and in the technological pole of computer and biotechnology researches which take advantage of the presence of outstanding university centers, causing the region to be an important tertiary center of the State of São Paulo.

Campinas, as Brazilian technological pole, besides being the central city of the region, concentrates a huge quantity of companies and research institutes linked to the high technology production, as indicates the presence in the city of Companhia de Desenvolvimento do Pólo de Alta Tecnologia de Campinas - Ciatec, in addition to two important universities – Unicamp and PUCCamp. The technological pole of Campinas extends to Hortolândia, which shelters the industrial condominium Tech Town.

The second regional pole is Americana, as a function of the development, quality and diversification of the commercial, industrial and service activities, located in the most developed sub-region of the region, which also includes the Planalto Refinery, the petrochemical pole of Paulínia. In this sub-region, neighbor to Americana and Paulínia, the most industrialized cities are Hortolândia, Nova Odessa, Sumaré, Santa Bárbara d'Oeste and Monte Mor.

Indaiatuba, Itatiba, Jaguariúna, Pedreira, Valinhos and Vinhedo have the industry as their main economic activity, but there is also a significant presence of diversified services, in the areas of rural ecological and business tourism in these cities.

The main activity of Artur Nogueira, Cosmópolis, Engenheiro Coelho, Holambra and Santo Antônio da Posse is the agriculture and stock raising, performed with use of high technology.

The transport and the metropolitan regions

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The state metropolitan regions have a significant industrial concentration, are industrial and agricultural poles and, therefore, important economic centers in the State and in the Country. As the wealth production is performed in the majority in the urban areas (above 90%), where the majority of the population lives, the flows are very dynamic and highly fast, crossing all quadrants of the urban areas.

The transport structure of the metropolitan regions of the State of São Paulo is complex and is based on the road and railway network built along almost two centuries. The railway, which appeared in the 19th century, was used for the flowing of the production between the inland and the Port of Santos and, together with them, other paths and roads were also used, which took and brought goods. The railway, therefore, was the major expansion axis of the São Paulo suburban areas and for the formation of the majority of the cities of the Jundiaí and Campinas region, focused on the coffee production.

The road structure of the São Paulo Metropolitan Region has a radio-concentric configuration, comprised of two road rings and ten federal and state highways. The mini-road ring and the metropolitan road ring have their tracing matching in the Tietê and Pinheiros marginal ways, from 4 to 6 km from the center of the City of São Paulo.

By this structure, a major portion of the Brazilian road load circulates, making the connections between the inland of the State and Brazil, the Port of Santos – the largest of Latin America – and the Guarulhos and Viracopos Airports, in the transport of goods to Mercosur and abroad. In addition, there is the use of the railway network also for the transport of load between the regions of Santos, São Paulo, Campinas and other regions of the state and of the country. In a nearby future, Rodoanel – in expansion – will reinforce such radio concentric space configuration of the road system, facilitating the links between the production regions around São Paulo, without the need to face the congestion problems caused by the junction of the traffic with the local traffic.

The SPMR transport metropolitan network structures the population displacements between centers and subcenters through the high capacity systems – metro and railway – and by the medium capacity system – bus and trolleybus corridors. Such network is fed by municipal and intermunicipal bus lines of medium and low capacity, which operate in the road system of metropolitan interest and in the arterial systems of the several cities of the region. The metro-railway system has free interlinking between metro and train and is integrated to the urban bus system of the city of São Paulo through the Single-fare Ticket accepted in both systems. There are also punctual integrations of the intermunicipal bus system with the metro-railway system.

The Campinas Metropolitan Region has a good quality ramificated road system and, similarly to São Paulo, has a radio-concentric road structured, comprised of a road ring and seven highways. The main road axis are the important Bandeirantes (SP 348) and Anhanguera (SP 330) highways, which link the SPMR to the inland State and the other regions of the country through the interlinking with other highways.

The Anhanguera-Bandeirantes complex is used to flow the production of CMR and nearby regions, besides allowing access to the other users of collective and individual transport. It is an integrated axis and structuring access of CMR and represents an important development vector of the municipalities that are in influence area. The Anhanguera highway is also used for travels by metropolitan collective transport (common and selective services) with destination to Campinas, from the cities of Americana, Nova Odessa, Sumaré, Hortolândia, Monte Mor, Valinhos and Vinhedo.

Both highways are used not only as passing route but also as route of intermunicipal travels within the region, mixing the passing traffic of load vehicles, private vehicles and municipal and metropolitan collective transport. Such sharing causes several problems, such as: the restriction of capacity (bottlenecks) at peak time and weekends, mainly, and the reduction of the operational speed, causing it to be unsafe and little attractive, mainly for the metropolitan transport.

The main axis of articulation and vector of displacements between the cities of CMR, Anhanguera, which has traffic of urban characteristics, has passing on it high tonnage load vehicles and vehicles with dangerous load, in situation of high risk of accidents, but also plays an important role in the municipal travels of Campinas, also allowing the radial displacements between the downtown and Eastern and Western regions of the city.

The CMR is served by the metropolitan bus service, managed by EMTU/SP, which serves the intermunicipal connections and by the municipal bus service, which is managed by the municipalities. The intermunicipal service has urban and road characteristics; the urban are more clearly verified in the connections between the conurbated cities and in the links of the cities of Sumaré, Hortolândia, Valinhos, Vinhedo, Monte Mor and Paulínia with Campinas. The road characteristics are verified in the links with the other cities, located at a higher distance, which routes are longer in state or municipal roads.

The Baixada Santista Metropolitan Region, differently from the other two metropolitan regions, has a linear road structure, following the coastline, comprised of two roads that cross the whole metropolitan region – SP 055 and BR 101, the last popularly referred to as Translitorânea, one of the country's most important roads, linking the States of Rio Grande do Norte to Rio Grande do Sul. BSMR is also fed by the Anchieta-Imigrantes system, from which the internal production and import and export production is flown, in addition to the flow of people.

The metropolitan transport is generated by EMTU/SP, which serves the intermunicipal links and is fed by the municipal bus service, managed by the municipalities, in addition to the boat service that makes the Santos-Guarujá and Guarujá-Bertioga connection. There is also a tram service only for tourist purposes.

The ways that articulate the metropolitan regions of the State of São Paulo

The lowland and the tableland are separated by the sea scarp, a range of very steep and uneven relief, cut by small streams going towards the sea. The valleys of these streams are used as routes between the tableland and the lowland, at the colonization time, mainly the Mogi river, important for the commerce of salt between those regions. The innovations in the construction of longer bridges and tunnels, from the 19th century, transformed the routes created to defeat the natural obstacles, causing them to be more practical and rapid.

Anchieta (SP 150) and Imigrantes (SP 160) highways are examples of such technical change. The first was built in the 1940's, its route follows the very steep relief by zigzags, in certain sections passing by short tunnels. Imigrantes has been built in the 1970's, when the rock perforation and construction of tunnels and viaducts were more developed, which allowed its path to cross rocky formations and to build ways that would pass inside relief or above it, with smaller need to regularly follow-up the relief accidents.

With different processes, Anhanguera (SP 330) and Bandeirantes (SP 348) have always be built, the first in the 1920's, winding in a significant portion of the route between São Paulo and Campinas, while the second was built in the 1970's, more straight in its route, because part of the rocky hills around it have been imploded.

The conurbation that leaded to the creation of the São Paulo metropolitan regions is of the middle of the 20th century. However, the ways, natural or built, and the economic interdependence between those regions are dated of the colonization time, establishing the conformation of the macrometropolis as a natural result of these ways and such interdependence.


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