San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Fine, Area Set for Gas-Saving Measures

Although officials said early last weeknew efforts to limit traffic in San Joséwould be voluntary, they have sinceplaced a ¢5,000 ($10.50) fine on driverswho enter restricted streets when they arenot supposed to.The measure, which is expected to gointo effect by the end of the month, is partof an effort to limit nationwide gas use byreducing traffic during peak hours (TT,July 1). It was prompted when internationaloil prices reached $60/barrel.The regulations will prohibit cars withcertain license plate number from drivingin specified areas of central San José duringrush hour. Drivers that violate the lawwill be fined.Officials originally thought they couldnot enforce a fine without a new lawpassed by the Legislative Assembly (thenew measure is based on a decree fromthe Executive Branch). They later realizeda fine could be imposed by invoking theTransit Law, according to the Ministry ofEnvironment and Energy (MINAE) pressoffice.The law establishes that drivers mustobserve and comply with vertical signs onpublic ways, or face a ¢5,000 fine. Signswill therefore be made to indicate therestricted area.The plan, which was signed as adecree Monday, will go into effect 15days after it has been published in theofficial government newspaper, LaGaceta.Pacheco also signed a decree instructingheads of public institutions in the SanJosé metropolitan area to shift theiremployees’ schedules one hour earlier (7a.m. to 3 p.m. instead of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.)as long as it does not affect servicesoffered to the public.While Environment and EnergyMinister Carlos Manuel Rodríguez saidthe measures would be permanent, regardlessof gas prices, the second decree saysthe change will be for a period of sixmonths, although it could be extended.The government hopes to save $100million a year with the gas-saving measures.

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