San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

New Bus Routes Languishing in Legal Limbo

The fate of seven new bus routes that would navigate the periphery of San José and outlying districts in an effort to reduce congestion in San José remains frozen in court.

At stake are so-called “inter-sectoral” routes, which were scheduled for inauguration last month, that would directly link several of the metropolitan area’s outlying districts and nearby suburbs.

The Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) plan would negate the need of many commuters to transfer buses downtown, thereby lessening downtown congestion and commuting time.

The original June 6 launch of the routes was jettisoned after the Transport Administrative Tribunal ruled that transport officials acted “irrationally” in awarding contracts for the plan to MPT S.A., a consortium made up of 34 bus companies.

“Everything remains the same,” said Anny Porter in a statement she conveyed to The Tico Times on behalf of MOPT Vice Minister Viviana Martín. “The process is still in appeal.”

With the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) ruling late last week that it has no jurisdiction in the case, MOPT’s appeal of the tribunal ruling remains to be decided by lower courts.

Porter would not speculate on how long the process might take.

Entering the fray last week was the Public Ethics Attorney’s Office, which ruled the contract had been awarded to the consortium improperly. Allegations of conflicts of interest arose in the daily Diario Extra, which reported that family connections existed between three members of the Public Transport Council, which awarded the new routes, and consortium members.

“We evaluate the ethical conduct of public officials and issue rulings,” said Tatiana Gutiérrez, the government attorney who handled the case, adding that she could not comment on specifics for reasons of confidentiality.

Gutiérrez said her office, which is part of the Government Attorney’s Office and has a staff of five attorneys, has no legal authority to halt a process like the implementation of the bus routes. It does recommend in such cases that the government office in question take appropriate action.

The daily La Prensa Libre reported this week that MOPT officials said they would look into any alleged conflicts of interest involved in awarding the contract to the consortium.

When launched, the seven routes, to be served by approximately 100 buses, will connect the southern suburb of Desamparados to the northeastern suburb of Moravia; the southern district of Hatillo to the northeastern suburb of Guadalupe; the northwestern district of La Uruca to the western suburb of Escazú; Guadalupe to La Uruca; Moravia to La Valencia, north of San José on the road to Heredia; La Valencia to the western suburb of Santa Ana, via San Antonio de Belén, northwest of San José; and Escazú to the southern suburb of Alajuelita.

The ministry designed the new routes based on studies and surveys conducted with commuters.

The last major overhaul of San José bus routes occurred in 2006 with the rearranging of many of the vehicles’ entrances and exits on the west side of the city (TT, Mar. 17, 2006).

More Pain at the Pump

The prices of gas and diesel will climb again, starting Tuesday, the Public Services Regulatory Authority (ARESEP) announced.

The rising price of oil and the weakening colón continue to be the culprits for the price hikes, ARESEP stated.

Regular will rise by ¢60, from ¢644 to ¢704; super by the same amount, from ¢656 to ¢716; and diesel will jump ¢88, from ¢622 to ¢710.

Fernando Herrero, ARESEP’s general regulator, said the authority was obliged by current standards to approve the increase in the price of diesel.


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