Soon San José will accept credit cards for parking

A.M. Costa Rica/Kayla Pearson
Machines like this are popping up downtown.

There’s bad news for those individuals who eke out a living by reselling parking boletas in the central area of the capital.

Credit card dispensers are are being installed by the Sección de Control Vial of the municipal government.

Visitors to the capital frequently are surprised that failing to display a valid parking slip or boleta can result in a fine. Sometimes the surprise is long delayed until the visitor tries to pay road tax on the vehicle in December. Unpaid parking fines have to be paid along with the road tax, just as more serious vehicle fines show up each year.

But where does one get a boleta? The answer is easy in areas of heavy traffic. There are free lancers who are ready to provide one for a small charge. Parking in the downtown is 510 colons a half hour. The trick is getting a slip that has the correct date and time. The motorist displays this slip on the windshield.

The free lancers double as car guards along the street they have staked out. Unlike the usual car guards who pop up like mushrooms when there is traffic, the vendors of the boletas are downtown fixtures who have been on the same street for years.

The boletas also are sold in some retail outlets, and the municipality has them for sale at government offices.

The area where parking slips are required runs from Calle 21 to Calle 22 south of Avenida 13. Because of the city’s alternate numbering, these streets are on opposite sides of the downtown. Parking rules are enforced six days a week, major holidays excepted. The rules are enforced by roaming, uniformed parking officers.

When the first parking regulations were issued in 1983, an hour cost 6.5 colons. The municipality is obligated by law to charge at least 75 percent of what private firms ask for parking.

The new credit card machines, once in operation, will allow the user to select the date and the time. The full 12 hours each day the regulations are in force, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., costs 6,120 colons, a little over $12.

A quick errand could cost just 85 colons (17 U.S. cents) for 10 minutes parking.

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