Government allows buses in Costa Rica to increase their services by 30% during the current restrictions.
Surely for the love of all that’s good and holy, anyone with half a brain could’ve seen that when you ban driving and cut buses by 80%, social distancing goes out the window. Unreal.https://t.co/Ai3tHnjuel
— CentralAmericaLiving (@VidaAmerica) July 13, 2020
In a turnaround last night, Costa Rica has increased the amount of buses on the road. The change comes in light of chaotic scenes this week of packed buses and long lines of people trying to get on them.
Last week, bus services were cut by 80% as part of the current mobility restrictions in Costa Rica’s orange-alert cantons. This includes all of San Jose and the Gran Area Metropolitano (GAM).
At the same time, the government restricted car usage to one day per week. With only 20% of buses running, no trains, and no-one allowed to drive, people still needed to get to work. This led to long lines at bus stops and crowded buses, impossible for any sort of social distancing.
Now, as of midnight last night, bus companies can increase their operations from 20% to 50%. This still leaves half of buses not running, but will hopefully allow some modicum of comfort and social distancing for commuters.
These rules affect buses with routes of less than 75 kilometers, meaning all regular city buses in the GAM.
Buses in Costa Rica are the prime method of public transport for most of the population. @PrendergastAlan has been using them for years to get around. Here he talks about the good and bad about bus travel.https://t.co/BBUnw5bQvm pic.twitter.com/UdcnnPEMeP
— CentralAmericaLiving (@VidaAmerica) August 9, 2019
People in the GAM rely on buses, especially the poor and those working in the informal economy.
Cutting bus schedules by 80% is another example of how much the COVID-19 measures affect the poor.
Some people can work from home, but many in Costa Rica don’t have that luxury. They need to work to feed their families, and stuffing them face-to-armpit in buses is unneccesarily cruel.
“I need to go to work, we must eat. I have nothing, no husband,” Alajuelita resident Lucia Cano told Semanario Universidad today.
In Costa Rica, if you don’t work, you don’t eat. The bono proteger never arrived for many (most?) people, and the government still has no “Plan B” to pay them out.
If the government won’t/can’t help people feed their families, then the very least they can do is lay on more public transport for them to get to work safely, not less.
Hacinamiento y movilidad de la gente disparan crecimiento de contagios en la GAMhttps://t.co/moCY1MFSNz
— Semanario Universidad (@SemanarioU) July 15, 2020
James Dyde is the editor of www.centralamerica.com. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.