RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff announced Friday major investment of 5.4 billion reals (2. 4 billion U.S. dollars) to expand the mass transit network in the country's largest city, Sao Paulo.
The money will fund the expansion of subway and train networks in the Sao Paulo metropolitan area, including a special railway line connecting the downtown area to the international airport, which is located in a neighboring town.
In addition, the government said, some 20 trains already in use will be renovated.
Most of the resources will be provided in the form of a loan to the Sao Paulo state government, but 1.3 billion reals (590 million U.S. dollars) will come directly from the federal government.
Rousseff stressed the importance of federal loans to states, saying without them, regional governments would be unable to carry out large projects.
"Without this kind of financing, long-term urban transportation projects could not be realized in Brazil, nor could other projects that demand substantial resources," she said.
The funds, said Rousseff, are part of a larger 9.6 billion- dollar package the government earmarked to improve public transportation in the city, following mass anti-government protests in summer against poor public services.
Bus, train and subway fares are considered to be high, given the poor services, and discontent with mass transit helped fuel anti-government protests in June, which were sparked by a .20 real, or less than 10-cent, fare hike in Sao Paulo, while the government spent millions of public funds on sporting events.
"The protests in June weren't just about the 20-cent hike, they were about more rights," Rousseff said at a public event.
"Providing speedy quality urban public transportation at a fair price is a challenge for all governments," Rousseff admitted.
Urban transportation is a major problem in Sao Paulo, as it is in other large cities in the country, such as Rio. Subway networks are rare in Brazil, as are dedicated bus and bicycle lanes.
After the protests, which saw more than a million Brazilians taking to the streets, the fare hike was revoked and the federal government announced a series of "pacts", or pledges, to improve public services, such as transit, education and healthcare, in partnership with state and local governments.
The government is also improving infrastructure in the lead-up to several large-scale international sporting events, such as the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games.