Costa Rica News – A tourist bus was pulled over for driving without permission to offer special services, only to find that in its passenger register were a whole host of famous names – including a few who are dead.
At the time, the bus was carrying more than 60 Costa Rican tourists. However, when officials asked the driver if he had permission to transport tourists, it transpired that he did not.
Furthermore, when they asked him for a list of his passengers, they were given a register of around 50 names of public figures from the worlds of politics, sport, music and cinema.
For example, the first President of the United States, George Washington, was on there – despite having died in 1799. Other American ex-Presidents also featured, such as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.
According to the log, Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States was also travelling.
As well as the politicians, a number of music stars also made appearances, such as James Hetfield (from Metallica), and Michael Bolton.
Some of the other famous names merely had local surnames added, so Madonna Avendaño and Shakira Solórzano also made the list. The only Costa Rican whose name was on there was the boxer, Hanna Gabriel.
The CTP said that they couldn’t reveal the name of the company.
Control. The Advice Bureau said that the check was part of a pilot plan for future operations, with a view to controlling the tourism transport industry (buses, taxis, porters and special services) and ensuring that drivers have the correct papers.
The body reported that by midday, they had taken down the licence plates of 8 vehicles, including the bus with such a prestigious following.
They stated that each of these offenders was charged a fine of ¢94,000, in accordance with Article 145 of the Transport Law, which says fines must be applied to “the owner of a vehicle who uses it to offer public transportation services of any form without consulting the relevant authorities”.
This ruling applies equally to any drivers who are offering this service, even if they are not themselves the owner of the vehicle.
Regulation. Gustavo Alvarado, from the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo – Costa Rican Institute for Tourism – (ICT), said that the obligation to carry a passenger register comes from the Guides for the Regulation and Exploitation of Land Tourism Transport Services.
This indicates that the register must contain arrival dates and times, destinations, the name of the driver, the name of any tourism guides aboard, and the names of every passenger.
“..this document could thus act as legal evidence for the service, should it be asked for by the Traffic authorities, the Public Transportation Advice Bureau (CTB) or the Costa Rican Institute for Tourism (ICT)”, he said.
If drivers do not operate in the correct manner, their service will be viewed as informal transportation, for which the transport law states a fine is necessary.
Alvarado said that “it’s a good sign that the Traffic Police, as the only body authorised to regulate drivers whilst on the road, were dealing adequately with the ICT’s new measure to further the operatives which will determine the correct usage of public transport permissions”.
Translated by Leah Hendre from La Nacion