Saturday, October 24, 2009

QuickPass for Dummies

If you live in the Central Valley, you probably know you can get a QuickPass for the newly-refurbished highway from San Jose to Orotina. That way you don't have to dig around for change every time you go through (it's 320 colones one way on the San Jose-Escazu toll, and some of the other tolls, like the one into Ciudad Colon, are even higher -- ouch!). So after a few months of working in San Jose a couple of days a week, digging for correct change, touching other people's dirty money and breathing in exhaust, I decided to buy a QuickPass. Here's what you need to do if you want one, too:
  1. Go to the closest HSBC. You'll fill out a form, pay $30 (just for the pass, that doesn't include any toll money), and they give you the QuickPass. If you have an HSBC account, you can buy the pass for $15, but personally I didn't think it was worth saving $15 to go through the hassle of opening yet another bank account.
  2. You then go to the cashier and pay for the QuickPass plus however much you want to put on it for tolls. Then, whenever you want to top up your QuickPass, you have to go to an HSBC and put money on it. You don't need to remove your QuickPass, however; all you need is your license plate number.
  3. You might want to RTFM. I am a dipshit, so I didn't read the booklet, and put the QuickPass on the back of my rearview mirror, and then wondered why it didn't work properly the first few times. I even kept flipping the damn thing around and was ready to exchange it, when I thought, hmmm, maybe you do stick it on the actual window... Well, duh! Yeah, stick it on the window. Away from window tinting, too.
  4. Now it should be ready to work. When you drive through the QuickPass lane, you hear a beep, then the toll gate goes up. If there are several cars in the lane, it appears you don't actually have to wait for the toll gate to go back down before you can go through. As long as the laser thingy reads your QuickPass, the gate will stay open and it still takes your 320 colones, so you can go through.
  5. If for some reason it doesn't work when you go through, one of the toll booth workers will take your QuickPass, type the number into their computer, and then you can go through. That sort of defeats the whole "Quick" part, though. I suggest if it doesn't work, RTFM, and, barring that, ask the toll booth worker if you've put it on properly.
  6. It beeps two times (or three times? anyway, more than once) when it's time for you to go top up. You have a couple thousand left on it when you hear it beep more than once.
That's it! It seems a little less like highway robbery when you pay a chunk in advance (no pun intended!). Plus, during work traffic, you get to go right through while dozens of other suckers wait in line. Ha! Ha, I say! It's sort of like FastPass at Disneyworld, only those are free.

Edited 28 Oct. 09: Just got this in e-mail today. It would have been nice if they'd have sent it before I had the damn thing in my car for two weeks, but that's probably asking too much. Sigh. Asi es.

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