Thursday 8 December 2022

Pay for the train with a card? It is now possible on the Cartago-San José route

Electronic payment will be gradually extended to other routes

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Paying the bills


RICO’s DIGEST – This Monday, the incompetent and inefficient railway service, the Instituto Costarricense de Ferrocarriles (Incofer), began accepting plastic (debit or credit card) for payment of fares.

This Monday, September 6, users of the commuter train on the Cartago – San Jose route could pay the fare with their plastic (debit or credit). Photo: Keyna Calderón

A “lo tico, mae” – in Costa Rica style – electronic payment is only available on the Cartago – San Jose commuter train route.

In this way, passengers leaving Cartago on the 7 am train, did not need to carry cash, though advisable to do so since we can expect the electronic payment service to suffer the same interruption of service as the train.

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As announced by the Incofer, the electronic payment is a joint project with the Banco Central (Central Bank) and the Ministerio de Obras Publicas y Transportes (MOPT) – public works and transport, with the intention make it easier for users, reduce the use of cash, as well as improve the information of the number of passengers.

Electronic payment also helps with the issue of the pandemic, less contact as with paying by cash, which is still an option.

Nothing new or innovating, really. Using your debit or credit card to pay for things has increased since the start of the pandemic. I don’t have statistics to back this up, only from personal experience in using plastic for most purchases, more than pre-pandemic and noticing around me at checkouts at supermarkets and other stores. Few are pulling cash out of their wallets.

Using a hand-held card processor, Incofer workers collected fares electronically starting this Monday morning. Photo: Keyna Calderón

My question to the incompetent and inefficient Infocer is why just the Cartago – San Jose route? What about the rest of the users?

There is no logic that a passenger traveling to and from Cartago to Heredia, Pavas or Alajuela still has to carry cash?

Isn’t the goal, as Incofer president, Elizabeth Briceño, explained, “apart from being convenient for a health issue, since it reduces contact, it also offers comfort for the user.

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“With the card that you shop and pay for utilities, you can also come and use the train,” she said.

For the rest of the users, they will have to wait a couple of months for “this convenience”, for that is when Incofer plans to expand the electronic payment to all routes.

Passengers, for their part, this morning were satisfied with the novelty.

“It seems super good to me, more comfortable. It’s better, there is less contact,” said Olga Nidia Campos, a resident of San Blas, who assured that she uses the train every day to get to San José since this service began.

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She probably wouldn’t think it so “super good” if she how had to continue on the train to say Alajuela or Heredia.

In the meantime, if you are traveling by train on the Cartago – San Jose route, don’t forget to carry cash.



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"Rico" is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of online magazines where everything is Q! In these times of new normal, stay at home. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

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