“Driving An Electric Bus Is Like Riding In The Clouds”, says Costa Rica’s First Female Electric Bus Driver

    “These buses would never leave you stranded, they are a beauty”, she explained

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    “Driving an electric bus is like riding in the clouds. It is something else. A delight, another level. It is more comfortable, more stable, the driver’s seat is super comfortable. You don’t feel tired of anything ”.

    That is the summary made by Ms. Ingrid Otárola Angulo, 39-years old, who is a bus driver in Grupo Auto Transportes Desamparados, a company that provides services to Desamparados, Aserrí, La Capri and Los Guido, and that trial-managed two electric buses during four months.

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    She and other colleagues were part of the test that was carried out with electric buses on certain deserted routes. She had to drive them on the San José-San Rafael Arriba de Desamparados route.

    The study on the first route with two of the three electric buses, donated by the German Ministry of the Environment, was carried out as part of the pilot project for the electrification of public transport, promoted by the Government of the Republic, with support from the project MiTransporte de German Cooperation – GIZ.

    The first results showed that the cost of the operation is five times less than that of diesel buses. For the month of May alone, the average daily cost of fuel for diesel units was            ₡ 49,501, while for the electric bus it only spent ₡ 7,898 on cargo.

    More comfort

    “Passengers are more comfortable and they let you know that way. They left the ride very happy. It is a bus that does not make noise, that does not have steps, that does not emit smoke, and that is too good for older adults. Even the bus leans to help more people who for one reason or another find it difficult to get on.

    Special service

    “For people who have to be given ramp service, in a wheelchair or who for some reason cannot bend their knees, I used the ramp which is easy to handle … that’s why I tell you that it is a delight”, adds the driver.

    Doña Ingrid drove the electric bus in a normal shift and under normal conditions, it was eight hours a day. “I would finish eight hours and I felt that I had not worked. The seat is an armchair with a lumbar support that inflates or deflates as you like. The back is comfortable. In those four months I came home and my family noticed it, they saw me as more rested, happy, active,” she recalled.

    Very good technologies

    The chauffeur accepts that the first week they were scared was due to ignorance, but then everything changed. “As a driver, one says: ‘Is this electric bus going to last me all day? But that is soon forgotten because they have very good technologies.

    “I received the bus at 4:30 in the morning with a 100% charge and as in the course that the INA gave us they taught one to regenerate (make the same bus produce energy to feed the battery), then eight hours later, she delivered with 68 or 70% energy and the afternoon colleague delivered at the end of the shift with 48 or 50%. Those buses would never leave you stranded, they are a beauty”, she explained.

    This female bus driver, is married and has 3 children and a beautiful granddaughter. It was her father, Don Víctor Hugo Otárola Corrales (known as Maita and who has already passed away), who prompted her to be a bus driver, in fact, when she was 16 years old, Don Víctor had already taught her to drive large trucks.

    “I entered as a checker and daddy always told me that I should ask for a driver’s place, that’s why I was encouraged. It’s a pity that daddy couldn’t see me and enjoy these electric buses, but my children did, they got on and loved how these buses relax, they are another level, almost that they drive themselves, with one hand,” she concluded.

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