Thursday, 13 August 2020

Why is bus service so bad on the Nicoya-San José route?

Alfaro bus company conducted a survey among passengers, whose most frequent complaint was the limited space between the bus seats. Photo by Ariana Crespo
Alfaro bus company conducted a survey among passengers, whose most frequent complaint was the limited space between the bus seats. Photo by Ariana Crespo

by Maria Fernanda Cruz, Vozdeguanacaste.com – As the sky opens up and rain pours down, the roof above my seat on the bus from San José to Nicoya also is raining. Water drips on my head, on my clothes and on my computer as if we were outdoors. I open my umbrella.

“What can we do, go on strike?” a frustrated rider, Marietta Díaz, asks as she waits for the driver to fix yet another problem.

But filing formal complaints over these types of problems often entails navigating cumbersome bureaucracy at the Public Transportation Council, or CTP, and the Public Services Regulatory Authority (ARESEP). Worse, official responses to those complaints rarely come in a timely fashion.

- paying the bills -

When riders like Díaz do follow through with complaints to the CTP, which oversees public transportation contracts, the best outcome they can hope for is a “stern warning” for the company – not a fine.

“The only punishment that exists (from the CTP) is canceling the concession, and that’s only happened once in the country’s history. And that was because the bus caught fire,” said former Transportation Vice Minister Sebastián Urbina, a day before he was dismissed from his post by the president.

denuncia-alfaro-ing

According to Urbina, current regulations do not allow the council to impose sanctions on licensees, apart from cancelling contracts. In order for that to happen, a company must have accumulated at least three complaints from users.

The CTP’s board of directors, which renews or cancels concessions, also is composed of the same licensees, such as bus company and taxi owners, relegating them to both judge and jury in disputes.

Meanwhile, the concession holder of the San José-Nicoya route, Transportes Alfaro, insists that its buses receive constant maintenance, although a spokesman acknowledges that some of the buses have problems.

- paying the bills -

Company spokesman Germán Alfaro said the company’s fleet of buses is replaced every 15 years as required by current legislation, and there is no reason to cancel the company’s contract.

“The bus with the leaks, the Chirriche, was repaired last week. And the driver is monitoring it to make sure there are no new leaks,” Alfaro said.

Taking action

What can consumers do when public transportation providers fail to comply with contract requirements?

Bus riders have two options: Contacting the CTP or ARESEP.

Public services Law 7593 defines the right of consumers to file complaints when public services or tariffs are irregular.

Exercising this right, however, can be a significant hassle for consumers, who must first report complaints to the responsible company. If the company fails to respond in 10 business days, the consumer can then go to ARESEP (see infographic).

- paying the bills --

ARESEP spokeswoman Carolina Mora said only two complaints were filed against the company Alfaro since 2013. In both cases, the company was fined from ₡2 million ($3,700) to ₡8 million ($14,800), the maximum allowed by law. Resolving these types of complaints can take at least six months and up to a year.

Mora said that although public transportation services usually generate constant complaints from users, those complaints rarely reach ARESEP.

“If complaints don’t leave the bus stop, how is ARESEP going to know about bad service?” Mora asked during a recent telephone interview.

Last year, that regulatory agency fined Transportes Alfaro more than ₡5 million ($9,251) due to the “charging of unauthorized fare rates.” It also fined the company Tralapa from Santa Cruz nearly ₡7.4 million ($13,700) for unfair competition and service irregularities.

 

Rico
Ricohttp://www.theqmedia.com
"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.

Related Articles

Tourism transport free to circulate without restrictions

(QCOSTARICA) Tourist transport services will be free to circulate every day...

Tourist buses will return to the street under vehicular restrictions

(QCOSTARICA) After almost 3 months without being able to circulate, the...

MOST READ

Coronavirus: 18 deaths associated with COVID-19 in 24 hours

(QCOSTARICA) As the closure phase approaches for the orange areas of the country, mainly the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM), the pressure for more flexible...

How COVID-19 could impact travel for years to come

In late 2019, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) published its “Economic Performance of the Airline Industry” report. It contained a 2020 forecast of...

Experts to talk about monopolies and oligopolies in Costa Rica

(QCOSTARICA) The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) drew the country's attention in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018 due to the high prices...

Copa Airlines plan to restart some flights in mid August include Costa Rica

(Q TRAVEL) Copa Airlines, the flag carrier of Panama, said on Thursday it has received government approval to restart flights in mid-August to about...

Caturga asks to allow flights from the U.S. to Guanacaste

(QCOSTARICA) The Guanacaste Chamber of Tourism (Caturgua) is requesting that the Government allow the arrival of tourists from the United States this month of...

Putin says Russia has approved ‘world first’ Covid-19 vaccine

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the approval of a coronavirus vaccine for use on Tuesday, claiming it as a "world first," amid continued concern...

Let's Keep This Going!

To be updated with all the latest news and information about Costa Rica and Latin America.

Log In

Forgot password?

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.