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AUTOMATED FARE COLLECTION IN 
COSTA RICA

“Conceptual design, detailed design, support in the creation of regulations, and support in the implementation of the National Electronic Payment System for Public Transport in Costa Rica”

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October 2019 – present

Client: Inter-American development Bank (IADB)

Beneficiaries: Central Bank of Costa Rica (BCCR), Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MOPT), Public Transport Council (CTP), Costa Rican Railways Institute (INCOFER), Regulatory Authority for Public Services (ARESEP).

As part of a strategy to improve the efficiency of public transport systems and reduce the use of cash country-wide, authorities in Costa Rica wished to implement an interoperable fare collection system for all its public transport services, comprising the Greater Metropolitan Area’s commuter train and 5,000 urban, rural and intercity buses. Only cash payments were accepted in these public transport systems, which have a daily ridership of about 1 million in 2022.

 

Through an IADB technical cooperation project, GSD+ worked with the Costa Rican authorities on the design, regulation and implementation of an automated fare collection system based on best practices related to interoperability and data and digital sovereignty. The system is 100% open loop, meaning it only accepts contactless bank card payments. In the future, other fare media, such as digital QR codes, will be accepted.

 

The system was initially implemented on the commuter train, which has three routes, 72 km of tracks, 32 stations and a daily ridership of 9,000 in 2022. Then it was implemented on flat-fare bus services in San Jose. Currently, GSD+ is working on the design of a solution to extend the system to bus services in the Greater Metropolitan Area that charge distance-based fares. Afterward, the system will be expanded to cover intercity bus services throughout the country.

 

To ensure all users can access the public transport services in Costa Rica, cash payments are still accepted. Nevertheless, the adoption of digital payments has risen quickly. Eleven months after completing the implementation of the system on the commuter train service, nearly 35% of payments are made using contactless bank cards. Two months after the system was implemented on buses, approximately 7% of on-board payments are electronic. Over 750,000 contactless payment transactions have been processed to date.

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Incofer_logo.jpeg
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