Seniors’ free and cut-rate bus rides causes grumbling

Lawmakers excel in giving away the money of other people. At Christmas the law states that employees must receive one-twelfth extra of what they earned in the previous year.

At restaurants, the legislature has added arbitrarily 10 percent for table service regardless of how competent the waiter has been.

Lawmakers also ordered free or cut-rate rides for senior citizens on public buses, and the Sala IV chimed in by ruling that seniors can ride the trains for free.

Some bus drivers are not happy with the edicts, and either as individuals or as an extension of their company’s policy they are giving some seniors a hard time.

The nation’s price regulating agency said that some 38 complaints were aired at hearings where bus company officials sought rate hikes this year.

The agency went so far as to restate the rules Thursday, perhaps in anticipation of the holiday season.

There are 311,000 persons in the country 65 or older, said the Authoridad Reguladora de Servicios
Públicos. Under the rules that were outlined each has the right to a free bus ride of up to 25 kilometers (about 15.5 miles).

That ruling is the result of law no. 7935 which specifically gives seniors the right to free urban transportation and a 30 percent discount on marine or air passage. The price regulating authority has followed this up with a resolution setting the 25 kilometer figure. On trips from 26 to 50 kilometers, seniors are supposed to receive a 25 percent discount. On longer trips the discount is 50 percent, said the authority.

The Sala IV ruling about the trains was in 2010.

Since the government is not covering the cost of the senior discounts, presumably the bus line owners take this into consideration when they request rates, and other passengers end up paying for the free and discounted rides for seniors.

Typically a senior presents a cédula that shows age when boarding a bus. Some bus drivers in the past have objected not to the free ride but to the delay in checking ages.

The price regulating authority said that a group of seniors made a collective complaint about a bus line in Tibás, and that as a result the bus line issued warnings to drivers.

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