image from La Nacion.
In as little as two months riding the bus in the metro area will become a little less sloppy and will start to resemble other metro area technologies that expats and tourists are familiar with. Eight inter-city bus lines will begin to accept payment via a chip on your phone (TAG) or an electronic card.
Many do not realize that each route here is owned by a different company. This makes it more difficult for one central governing body to distribute all route information and maintain well-marked bus stops, which is the biggest problem for visitors, 'how the hell do I find the bus stops or get anywhere in SJO on public transport!'
While there won't be a decent 'bus map' coming out anytime soon, this new payment method will be a foundation-laying collaboration between the Santa Ana, Escazú, Moravia, Curridabat, Tres Ríos, barrio Luján, Sabana-Cementerio and Estadio bus routes.
Users can obtain the chip or card for free in a Banco Nacional or pulperias located near the bus stops. A minimum charge of 6.000 is required for either, and the route price will be deducted each time you board one of these buses. This will help riders more easily track their transport expenditures, and help the drivers move more quickly without having to count change at each stop, not to mention the extra security for drivers not having as much cash on the bus.
This product has already been tested over two years, most specifically with the 'seniors' card currently accepted on buses by the product developer Corporación de Investigación Electrónica. The company is also trying to work with the cell phone companies to reach an agreement to provide extra free minutes or some kind of incentive to users with the cell phone chip.
There are many nuances that have made San Jose feel like such an 'other world' experience for visitors and I would say paying with cash and even receiving exact change on the buses is one. With this change we'll see better efficiencies but a little part of a more simple (yet somehow more complicated) way of life will disappear. Can I be happy and sad about this? If you want specific directions on how to travel by bus in San Jose please contact our concierge staff.
By Stacey Auch.