Can you imagine taking the train in Cartago, getting off in San Jose center and traveling the last kilometers to work on a rented bicycle, or use a bus and transfer in a mega terminal where you will have several options to end the trip in an Uber?
The intermodality of public transport is a proposal of urban mobility that the government of Carlos Alvarado and private companies are already beginning to realize in Costa Rica.
It is a medium-term project – especially related to the electric train that should be up for concession in 2022 – but that will definitely be a reality because the country needs to solve the serious problems of traffic congestion.
Today, Costa Rica is the third country with the highest vehicle density per thousand inhabitants of the continent, which reduces competitiveness and means that each Costa Rican loses between US$3,000 and US$5,000 per year, according to the last Estado de la Nación (State of the Nation) report.
In that sense, the intermodality plan in public transport intends that Costa Ricans gradually abandon private vehicles. The expansion routes for cycling, the metropolitan electric train and the advances in the sectorization of bus routes are key to making this intermodality possible, according to mobility experts.
Moving us in that direction, for example, is the start this month of the first massive bicycle rental system in the country. With a thousand units in San José, Montes de Oca, Curridabat, Barrio Escalante, Santa Ana and Escazú, OMNiBicis provides an alternative that it expects to expand to 5,000 distributed throughout the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM).
The use of the bicycle is an option that included in the ”Law of Mobility and Cycling Safety” (Ley de Movilidad y Seguridad Ciclística) that went into effect last January, that promotes the use of bicycles and that the new road infrastructure be designed contemplating this means of transport.
In addition, a “Pedestrian Mobility Law” (Ley de Movilidad Peatonal)) is being discussed in the Legislative Assembly, which recognizes the priority in the mobility of pedestrians.
Finally, public employees of nine institutions premiered showers and exclusive parking for bicycles at their workplaces last June, as part of World Bicycle Day.
“Issues such as electronic payment on buses and adapting road infrastructure for bus-train-bicycle intermodality are pending,” said Roberto Guzmán, the director of the Chepecletas urban mobility initiative.
According to Guzmán, the streets should be narrowed and speed limits reduced, “if you want to discourage the use of private vehicles”.
Mobility experts believe that the government has taken important steps in favor of the intermodality of public transport.
To that end, First Lady, Claudia Dobles, has been at the forefront of her husband’s government plan to reduce congestion and get the GAM moving again.
“By 2021 we have an important milestone that is the renewal of bus concessions. The opportunity will be taken to have a transparent dialogue with them. The idea is to make annual progress and performance metrics on concessions and thus move forward in the process,” Dobles told La Republica.