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Costa Rica will (finally) support contactless payments on public transport

February 26, 2021

Costa Rica’s next step toward modernizing its public transport system will be to allow contactless payments.

The Railway Institute (INCOFER) this week began testing the new system, which should be introduced to the public at the end of July.  The payment system will then be implemented along bus routes.

“With the controlled tests, the Costa Rican Railway Institute seeks to verify and adjust the operation of the electronic payment system, before it is definitively implemented to the public at the end of July on trains and then, gradually, on the bus service,” the Presidency said.

The SINPE-TP system works similarly to a dataphone point-of-sale device: When a rider approaches their credit or debit card to the device, the payment will be authorized. The system can automatically calculate the appropriate fare based on the route the passenger is taking.

Contactless train payments
Start of controlled tests for a National Electronic Payment System in Public Transport at the old INCOFER Atlantic Train Station, San José. February 25, 2021. Photo by Roberto Carlos Sánchez / Casa Presidencial.

The Transport Minister, Rodolfo Méndez, emphasized the cashless system will make public transit more efficient and will improve sanitary conditions.

“With the beginning of these tests, we take a further step in the modernization of the national rail system,” said Elizabeth Briceño, INCOFER president.

INCOFER also continues to test the eight self-propelled train carriages that it received earlier this year. If all goes as planned, the diesel-powered trains will begin service in April.

A modern public transportation system is one of the focal points in Costa Rica’s 2050 decarbonization plan. The country hopes to construct an electric train network in the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM) and incentivize electric buses.

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