By Ivo Henfling
Many of you might not know about the renewed traffic restriction/prohibition into San Jose as part of a new Costa Rica traffic law. You can read all about this in this AM Costa Rica article but to give you a short answer, all vehicles, have a one day prohibition, by license plate number, into San Jose. With the renewed restriction though, passenger cars with 4 persons, to promote car pooling, will be able to drive from 6 - 8 am and from 4 - 7 pm. A Tico solution to a worlwide problem. And why not re-invent the wheel and copy other proven plans by cities 20 times bigger than San Jose? Don't we love to invent our own solutions here?
My insurance agent, Isidro Gonzalez, an expert on Costa Rican Insurance, came up with a very good solution, you can all read below. He has sent this article to all the major newspapers, but none thought it was a good idea apparently, or they're just afraid the idea is too good. This is Isidro's story:
by Isidro Gonzalez Aguero, Insurance Agent
In relation to this matter of the famous vehicle restrictions into San José, I would like to share some thoughts. And maybe you, dear reader, help me shape the idea even more. Have you heard about the renewed traffic restrictions? Now you cannot drive into San Jose on your tag day, not only early in the morning and at the end of the day but throughout the day either. That could apply not for only one day now, but even two days a week. And they are analizing the idea of extending it to Cartago, Heredia and Alajuela. Wherever you look, things are getting complicated.
While one tries to understand the reasoning of the government about the high cost of the oil bill, using empathy and 'putting yourself in our shoes' the Public administration can understand that we need to go one one place to another, not for the fun of it, but for work or business reasons. For my professional career as an insurance agent, I drive to address the customer requirements, wherever they are located. And by the nature of this service, I cannot say that "restrictions apply", something like: "... yes of course, I'll be happy to insure your car, but today I can not, I go tomorrow .... " And perhaps the customer is dealing with emergency insurance as a requirement for a bank loan. What do you think you think would happen? Losing customers is not pleasant for anyone. And customers happen to live in different places, if I have to drive from Rio Oro de Santa Ana or Escazu (west side of San Jose) to Curridabat or Granadilla (east side), or Guadalupe (north side), or Desamparados (south side) how can I get there in a timely way, considering that public transport in our country is not timely and efficient?
Ah well, it is true, there are taxis ... Have you used them recently, and have seen you their rates? And assume that the "María" (meter) is not altered .... And have you tried to catch a taxi during rush hour?
Its almost a better idea to just hit the road and hope to to be caught than making these huge detours to try to get when I need to so I can meet my client, and spending more fuel than usual, which was precisely what the government wants to avoid. And the same goes for the doctors visit their patients in Clinics and Hospitals, and the lawyer who must attend a trial in court, and the real estate agent has to pick up his client from the San Jose hotels most of the time and you dear reader, whatever your occupation is. Yes, all this also affects you.
And that is the idea of carpooling 4 or 5 people but those are for employees with office hours, and working in the same place or in nearby offices. How ironic, really, we are just getting out of and recovering from a global crisis, and they have to put many barriers to our economic activities!
Now that I have explained the situation more or less, I propose an idea and I hope that you can help give it shape and improve it. If on the day of our restriction, we really must enter the "dark zone", precisely because we have to go, not because we will do some sightseeing tour of San Jose that day. It is a requirement for our work, and it is necessary for us to be able to generate income. But then you could pay a fee to be able to work that day without the fear that we "will be caught" and get a ticket, trying to hide like a criminal.
Rather than being punished by a fine for having to work (I understand the fine is about ¢30.000), I would pay for example 10% of this amount with pleasure, and purchase a ticket or the name you want to give it, and that money goes directly and electronically to the account designated to pay for the oil bill. It's like you'll be buying time on a parking meter, parking garage or something like that. This can be done via internet and you pay by debit card from your home or office and print it as we do with certifications from the National Registry too. But if you already on the road and you need to go to the "Dark zone", do not worry, go to a gas station, or to the pharmacy, or the Supermarket or a Bank, or any mom and pop store and you buy your ticket. It's like buying a prepaid phone card and the money goes straight where it belongs. Not, as happens now, a fine will be outstanding for who knows how long ...! Would not you prefer to pay only ¢3.000, and work without the hassle? And if you pay it is because you needed to.
What do you think? Feel free to leave any comments, I'd love to see them here below.
Isidro Gonzalez can be contacted for any insurance in Costa Rica, feel fee to email him.