It was costly, slow and uncomfortable.
Now he zips across town on a new Honda motorcycle, enjoying the wheels that have opened up a world of freedom and dating.
Thanks to economic stability, a 12-year low for interest rates on personal loans and new banking rules that broaden the supply of credit, millions of people in Latin America's largest country are becoming first-time borrowers.
In turn, they are supporting a structural shift in Brazil's economy by sustaining manufacturers of expensive, long-lasting goods like motor-cycles and refrigerators.
"Credit has become more accessible," Mr Carmo said.
Interest rates in Brazil, where the benchmark lending rate is 15.25 per cent a year, are still among the highest in the world and the typical personal loan carries an interest rate of 57.8 per cent a year, according to the central bank.
But for many workers interest rates on personal loans have fallen enough to make monthly payments affordable.
Carmo will pay 265 reais (£62) a month for three years to buy his motorcycle. The payments will nearly double the listed price of the motorcycle.
In many countries, borrowers would refuse such interest rates and Carmo's loan might violate usury laws.
But his purchase of the small 125cc motorcycle made financial sense. He used to spend 180 reais a month (£43), or six reais a day, on bus fares.
For an extra 85 reais a month, he bought a motorcycle that halved the time he spent commuting and allowed him to take joy rides in his spare time.
Banks allow people like Carmo to borrow as much as they want so long as their monthly payment does not exceed a third of monthly income.
"Ninety percent of my sales today are done on credit and half our clients are buying to avoid traffic and bus fares," said Carlos Cesar Daniel, sales manager at a Honda dealership in Sao Paulo's S a n t o A m a r o neighborhood.
Nationwide, motorcycle sales rose 27.9 percent in May from the same month last year, according to Brazil's association o f m o t o r b i k e manufacturers.
Stronger sales buoyed motorcycle production, which rose 29.3 per cent in May. Brazilians are forecast to buy a record 1.34 million motorcycles this year. ..SUPL: