Thursday 9 February 2023

Johnny Araya wants to connect the GAM electric train with a tram for San José

Reactivating the economy and improving mobility would be the benefits, according to the mayor. Urban train financing loan already in Congress.

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8 February 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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(QCOSTARICA) One day, possibly in the very near future, Costa Rica, at least in the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM), could have a modern public transportation system.

“The tram is complementary to the electric train and would help decongest the streets,” said Johnny Araya, Mayor of San José.

Joining that effort are the plans by San Jose mayor Johnny Araya, who wants to connect the GAM electric train with a tram for Costa Rica’s capital city.

The implementation of new means of transport would help to improve mobility in the GAM and the capital and at the same time, would help to reactivate the economy in times of economic crisis due to the Coronavirus.

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The project of the tram is under study by the mayor’s office, while the electric train, promoted by Claudia Dobles (First Lady) and Elizabeth Briceño, president of Incofer, is awaiting financing approval from legislators.

“I am convinced that one of the problems that most affects the quality of life of Costa Ricans is the issue of mobility. We have a road collapse in the GAM that causes many to waste hours commuting to their jobs and their homes. It is a priority for Costa Rica to modernize public transport and for this reason, we support the electric train project,” said Araya.

First Laday, Claudia Dobles

For the mayor, the US$1.5 billion train that the government is promoting is strategic for the country.

The electric train will cross 85 kilometers, throughout 15 cantons and four provinces, bidirectional, at ground level, with some overpasses and at a frequency of every five minutes at peak times and without the need for expropriations.

The electric train service will be under concession and so far, companies from ten countries have shown interest.

Elizabeth Briceño, president of the Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles (Incofer), the national railway

In principle, it would allow the hiring of 1,000 temporary employees for construction and would generate almost 500 permanent jobs for the operation stage; reduce road congestion and pollution, in addition to giving Costa Ricans a higher quality of life.

The bottleneck

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The main legislative benches – totaling 40 legislators – view the project’s cost of US$1.5 billion with skepticism, including a  US$550 million loan with the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI); in addition to a millionaire contribution by the State.

The fact that the country is experiencing financial problems and that spending has not been contained, according to the legislators’ criteria, casts doubt on the main urban mobility project that the Alvarado government has proposed.

Some legislators, like Carmen Chan, leading the Nueva Republica party, they believe the electric train project will not respond to the interests of the neediest sectors, Chan calling the project “an illusory attempt” by the Alvarado administration “to ingratiate themselves solely with the interests of the groups allied to their political project”.

 

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