Alajuela’s new bus station took a long time coming but the results are in. There are spaces for 42 bus lines, well lit waiting areas with ramps, security around the clock, and under-roof shops for last-minute-before-the-bus-goes purchases.
The station was scheduled to open in December but last minute corrections delayed that date and even after the glitzy inauguration on January 27 with president Chaves on hand and a fireworks display, the station stayed closed because it just wasn’t ready yet.
But now, after two years of promises, the new station makes bus service easier and more comfortable. Walking from one bus line to another takes just a few steps instead of bucking sidewalk crowds and crossing traffic strangled streets.
The new station covers two full blocks with plenty of room to accommodate lines waiting for the different buses. Wide ramps make it easier entering and leaving the station, especially for the visually disabled, moms with babies, and young women with stiletto heels.
A partial roof will keep the rain off and there will be public services; bathrooms, cleaning service, automatic money machines and an office for security guards. The wide center area makes it easier for buses entering and making turns. The station is just one block from Alajuela’s central market and commercial district.
Construction began in April, 2021 but was plagued with delays including an injunction by someone claiming that the entrance and exits were too narrow for the buses. Then there were last minute adjustments and bus lines had to get permits from the Council on Transportation (Consejo de Transporte) before they could use the station.
Alajuela mayor Humberto Soto cut the ribbon to inaugurate the station and told the audience that the new station will help revive the city. “This will eliminate a lot of traffic problems by keeping buses off side streets, and with the new station functioning the municipality can now develop plans for beautifying the city and controlling traffic.”
The old bus station on the same site discouraged using public transportation as users had to endure such indignities as peeing and sometimes pooping in the back area, grimy benches that made standing a preferred option, rats scurrying after bits of snack food, and rain gutters so broken up that you got wetter inside the station than out. Nor was there enough room for all bus lines so that buses were scattered over surrounding blocks.
The land was originally the train station, built around 1906 for passengers going to Puntarenas and after train service was discontinued in the 1980’s, was turned over for the use of buses but it never was a comfortable place to wait. According to the municipality of Alajuela 40,000 to 50,000 people per day use the bus station.