The historic Rio neighborhood of Santa Teresa has long been linked with the rattling yellow streetcars that were once the principle form of transport in the city. In fact, the bonde, as it's known, is one of the oldest streetcar lines in the world, and the last remaining in Brazil.
Until a fatal derailing in 2011 revealed a shocking number of dangerous faults in the system, the Santa Teresa trolley had been running for a staggering 134 years, serving as both a tourist attraction and a cheap, practical link to downtown for local residents.
Today, the line's back and safer than ever.
This Santa Teresa street mural calls for the bonde's return — Photo courtesy of CaosCarioca
In August 2011, brakes failed on one of the trams, and it came off the rails on a steep curve, killing five people – including the driver.
An investigation into the accident revealed a system in a shocking state of neglect, and the trams were taken out of service.
As the authorities dragged their heels over repairs – a promise that the trams would be back in action before the 2014 FIFA World Cup proved woefully unrealistic – the tram continued to be a symbol of the famously artistic neighborhood, visible in murals and in the "crying bonde" symbol that was adopted across the bairro to mark both the loss of life and the loss of the much-loved tram.
In July 2015, the bonde was finally put back into partial service, and today visitors can once again experience the fairground-ride thrill of clattering over the 45-meter-high Lapa Arches and up the steep, cobbled streets of one of Rio de Janeiro's most scenic neighborhoods.
With the original, open-sided trams deemed unsafe, the neighborhood has received a fleet of brand new trams, designed to closely resemble the bright yellow and much-loved predecessors.
The bonde terminal, located close to the modernist cathedral in downtown Rio, has been named Estacao Carioca Motorneiro Nelson Correa da Silva in honor of the amicable driver who lost his life in the 2011 tragedy.
Travelers can no longer cling to the sides of the trolley, standing on the wooden running boards as it rumbles along, as this long-popular practice has been rightly flagged as unsafe. But it's still a wonderfully wild ride, as the bondinho clatters over the aqueduct and up the steep slopes up to the the artists' enclave that is Santa Teresa.
Today, the trolley has been only partially reinstated, with the rest of the system to be gradually put into working order as the network is renovated in painfully slow stages.
But there are hopes that, having missed the deadline of one sporting mega-event, the authorities will manage to have the network operating fully by the 2016 Rio Olympics.