In their never-ending quest to improve San José’s traffic woes, transport officials have announced that starting Monday western San José will see new bus routes and lanes closed to private vehicles.
The idea is to reduce the number of roads shared by public transportation and private cars by establishing bus-only lanes and streets, Minister of Public Works and Transport Randall Quirós explained.
Dividing streets by use – be it bus, private car or pedestrian – improves traffic flow, specialists have said (TT, Aug. 5, 2005).
The changes are limited to western San José, but are the first stage in a Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MOPT) plan to restructure the capital’s traffic system.
One million people enter San José every day, 80% on public transportation and 20% in private vehicles. However, the latter use 70% of the space, San José Mayor Johnny Araya said during the announcement last week.
“People are always saying we have to get the buses out of San José, but I say the opposite… public policy has to prioritize public transportation,” Araya said.
As of next week, buses will no longer exit the city using the westbound lanes of Paseo Colón, and bus stops on the north side of this street will be eliminated. Instead, much of this bus traffic will be moved one block north to Avenida 1, which will be switched from its current eastbound flow traffic to westbound, allowing buses to leave the city on this street. On Avenida 1 from Calle 22 to Calle 36, buses will be priority, however private vehicles will be allowed access to local businesses.
In addition, buses will travel on an exclusive, reversible lane on Avenida 10, between Calles 14 and 36, near the municipality building. The bus-only lane will not include stops and be used by buses from estinations including Alajuela, Heredia, Puntarenas and San Ramón. The lane will run eastbound, toward downtown San José, from 1:10 a.m. to noon and westbound from 12:10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Small barriers on either side of the busonly lane have already been installed. The three other lanes on Avenida 10 will be used for private vehicles and some local buses to travel into the city eastbound.
Through these changes, private vehicles will be prioritized on Avenida 3 and on Paseo Colón heading west.
In addition, other changes have been made to shorter stretches in the area, including bus-only lanes, changes of direction and new traffic lights. Drivers are encouraged to closely follow street signs starting Monday.
With the help of the bus operators, MOPT has tried to locate more bus stops together in order to facilitate passenger transfers between bus lines.
In addition, street parking will be eliminated in various neighborhoods to allow more fluid traffic flow. A total of 50 traffic police officers will increase their vigilance over parking as well as all of the changes, Quirós said. Violators of the new laws will face a ¢5,000 ($10) fine.
A total of ¢264 million ($525,000) will be invested to facilitate the changes, including repaving streets that will see increased bus traffic.
More information on the changes is available at www.mopt.go.cr, click on “Nuevo, Reordenamiento Vial sector Oeste San José” in the lower right corner and later on “Listado” for a list of new bus stops or “Croquis” for a map of new bus stops. Maps of the new routes are also available through the National Chamber of Transporters, 283-1820, 700 meters south and 150 meters east of the Banco Nacional of San Pedro, east of San José.