A Ride on the Urban Train
I had early morning business in San Jose, so I couldn't wait to take advantage of the Urban Train, the Greater Metropolitan Area's commuter rail. The Heredia-San Jose route has been in service since August 2009, but since it only runs Monday-Friday, I had not been able to take a spin on the country's most modern trains.
The Heredia-San Jose commuter train runs during rush hours, from 6:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Four morning trains and three afternoon trains connect Heredia to San Pedro's University of Costa Rica and the Universidad Latina; all other routes end at the Atlantic Station located in eastern San Jose's Barrio California neighborhood. The trip from downtown Heredia to eastern San Jose lasts just 30 minutes, an improvement over the bus, which can take 45 minutes or more depending on traffic. Even better: the train's cost, depending on your destination, is either equivalent to or less expensive than taking the bus.
At 7:05 a.m., I arrived at Heredia's train station, which sits just south of the central market. The train is very popular among commuters, and I should have known better than to arrive five minutes before departure. I bought my ticket -- take note that the station does not accept 5,000 or 10,000 colon bills -- and got in line just as the train began tooting its departure whistle.
The 7:30 train left the station at 7:31 and I was impressed with its punctuality. As one of the early boarders, I was lucky enough to snag a seat, but the train's two modern cars were full with travelers standing as tight as sardines. As on the public bus, pregnant women and senior citizens are given preferential seating. The air conditioning was cool despite the high-density body heat, and I sat back in the comfortable upholstered seat to enjoy the view.
Thirty minutes later, I was standing on a platform in downtown San Jose. This had been, by far, the easiest, fastest, and most comfortable Heredia-San Jose trip I had ever taken and I'm already planning my next trip on the Urban Train.
Here's a look at the schedule, current as of early 2010:
Heredia to San Jose: 350 Costa Rica colones (approximately 65¢) -- set to increase to 407 Costa Rica colones (about 75¢)
San Jose to Heredia: 350 Costa Rica colones (approximately 65¢) -- set to increase to 407 Costa Rica colones (about 75¢)