The electronic charging system for the new electric trains begins a pilot plan process -controlled tests- in order to be able to be in service to citizens as of next July. This was announced by the Costa Rican Railroad Institute (Incofer) in coordination with the Central Bank and the Regulatory Authority of Public Services (Aresep).
The President of the Central Bank, Rodrigo Cubero, said that this is a necessary project for the country because it allows reducing the use of cash through an “agile and inclusive payment option.” In this first stage of testing, the system will be used by Incofer personnel, who will make the necessary interactions to test the mechanism.
“All this is designed to benefit the user,” said the Minister of Public Works and Transportation (MOPT), Rodolfo Méndez Mata, who added that electronic payment is necessary for the modernization of public transport in general, taking into account buses and trains.
For her part, the head of Incofer, Elizabeth Briceño, said that “these controlled tests are essential to verify and adjust the system” that will use electronic devices such as dataphones that are found in all stores.
To make the payment, the user must bring his card and the collector must enter the route that will be used by the person, the point of origin and destination, in order to establish the rate to be charged. The testing period that begins this Thursday, February 25, will be done with the National Bank, however, for the operation stage with users, it will be enabled with all banking entities.
The implementation of electronic charging on buses establishes a “more complex” process, as recognized by members of the National Chamber of Transporters (Canatrans). Initially, it is expected that once the electronic charging for trains is enabled (July), a pilot plan for buses can begin at the end of the year. However, the director of Canatrans, Silvia Bolaños, said that there are still many unanswered questions, for example, the cost of equipment and its impact on user fees.
“It would be expected that six months after these train tests, we can already be considering whether to incorporate entirely into the process. That does not mean that we have stopped working, on the contrary, the technical commission of the Central Bank is working hard on what is the design for the use of electronic payment for buses because if it requires or has a series of variables that the train does not have at the moment and that have to be considered within that design.
“The issue of rates is being discussed, that is why Aresep is part of the discussion because it would have to be determined that at this time we have a maximum commission of 1.5, there other banks would enter to compete that could give a commission much lower than that, however, what is sought precisely when incorporating Aresep is that the equipment that has to be provided has the lowest possible cost so that the user rate is not strongly impacted,” said Bolaños.