San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
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President Solís demands explanation for spike in traffic jams

President Luis Guillermo Solís says he’s stumped by what, exactly, has been causing a recent increase in traffic jams. He says the problem goes beyond road capacity.

“You could double the number of lanes and the next day motorists would be stuck in traffic again,” Solís said during a public event last week.

The president said he doesn’t understand why traffic jams are affecting one place one day, and then a totally different place the next day.

During a press conference last week, Solís said he wished he had a magic wand to solve the problem immediately. He also addressed angry reminders that one of his campaign promises was, as promoted on billboards, “Get home faster, spend less time in traffic jams.

He reiterated the promise, saying his administration “isn’t over yet.”

Solís said he asked Traffic Police officials for a report on the specific reasons why motorists have been stuck in traffic for up to five hours at a time in recent weeks and why the number of traffic accidents has increased.

Possible solutions

According to data from the Traffic Police, rush hour in the Central Vally is usually 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. – 7.00 p.m.

Public Works and Transport Minister Carlos Villalta said authorities are working on a plan to modify work schedules at public offices in the Central Valley in order to alleviate rush hour.

Ministry officials are evaluating two options: One would have half of government employees start work at 7 a.m. and the other half at 8:30 a.m., while the other option would leave it up to each agency to negotiate special hours with its employees.

Three public agencies are already changing their workers’ schedules:

Minister Villalta said authorities are also considering improvements to public roads, including building more lanes and modifying 25 intersections to expedite flow on highly congested roads. He said they’re also looking at reorganizing bus routes.

President Solís sent a request this week to the Legislative Assembly to amend the national budget in order to hire 1,100 more Traffic Police officers to patrol roads and crack down on infractions that cause accidents and snarl traffic.

Traffic Police Director Mario Calderón said he has increased patrols along the busiest roads in the Central Valley, but officers are constantly called to attend accidents and other emergency situations.

A plan to incentivate carpooling would offer drivers access to exclusive parking spots, exemptions at parking meters and to the vehicle restriction that prohibits them from traveling in downtown San José.

(Via MOPT)

Other initiatives

The private sector and some lawmakers are also making efforts to improve traffic.

A free app called Ruta Alterna offers real-time information about traffic accidents, road closures and traffic jams, using official reports from the Traffic Police and the Red Cross. The app also includes a live chat where users can share information and updates about traffic incidents, and a log that allows users to review incidents from previous days.

Ruta Alterna is available for both iOS and Android devices, and provides updates on Facebook and Twitter.

On the legislative side, Citizen Action Party lawmaker Franklin Corella Vargas is preparing a bill that would authorize and regulate carpooling and ride-sharing. The bill seeks to incentivize carpooling by offering drivers access to exclusive parking spots, free parking at metered spaces and exemption from the one-day-per-week vehicle restriction.

Corella has yet to submit his bill to the Legislative Assembly but he’s already facing opposition from taxi unions, which say the legislation would legalize Uber and similar services. Ride-hailing services like Uber are technically illegal in Costa Rica, although Uber is widely used and the government has declined to crack down on the service.

Recommended: The ultimate guide to taxis in Costa Rica

Contact L. Arias at

Comments are closed.


start by ticketing motorists who block an intersection so that gridlocks are prevented.

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Buy a motorcycle and ride on the sidewalks in the ditches or split lanes.
Anything goes.
This is the best solution for San Jose traffic.

It gets worse every year and there is no fixing this problem.
Solis should Restrict plated 4 or of 5 days.
Not 1 out of 5.
This would force people to use public transit again.

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Ann Creed

remove the toll booths from highway 1 (from SJO international airport to San Jose.)
Make the the money from some other source.

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Hiring more police officers will solve nothing. It is the road system and other factors that Costa Rica seems to ignore.
Anyone can tell you that when the police are present, everyone drives sanely, then when out of sight the motorcyclist return to their weaving and obstruction driving.
Large trucks driving in all lanes on multiple land roads.
Let’s see, 2 lanes reducing to 1 lane, and 4 lanes reducing to 2 lanes for bridge crossings: BOTTLENECK FOR MANY KILOMETERS.
Many railroad crossings now without proper warning devices slowing traffic.
Construction shutting down roadways during heavy traffic times rather than performing maintenance late at night.
No proper pull offs for buses.
Schools that do not have parking spaces for parents who drop off, and pick up, their children.
Allowing major development without the developer planning for, and contributing to, the expected increased demand on the infrastructure.
Shall I continue?
Maybe instead of the Costa Rican Presidents always visiting Wall-Street, they should visit the places that had/have these problems and understand how they addressed them effectively.
Or, maybe there should be another US$40 million low interest loan from China to come here with Chinese companies and Chinese workers to fix the problem.

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Mark Kahle

A spike in traffic jams ? That has the President concerned? 1000 new Trafficos making a like number of roadside stops that will turn into even more slow downs.

Makes sense to me. The ones they have don’t work…yep we need more.

How about instituting mandatory, non-corrupt driving classes. How about a road system that makes some semblance of sense. How about getting rid of CONAVI as promised. How about getting rid of RECOPE? Just those two things alone and he could hire his Police, not raise taxes and actually spend down the national debt………

How about getting rid of the public sector unions… how about NOT paying them to stage illegal strikes… hire his police with that money.

Solis must truly think the public is blind and as stupid as he wishes we were. Runaway spending, salaries and retirement are a big part of what is wrong. Fix that first.

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Any meaningful plans to reduce traffic congestion will cost money, which the government will say it does not have and the legislature will not approve, so I don’t see the Solis administration being able to affect much change. Pura Vida.

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