Saturday, February 06, 2010

More QuickPass info

Now that I've had a QuickPass for a few months, I can pass on a few "quirks" you ought to know about, in case you plan to get one yourself.

  1. Supposedly, you can go to HSBC's website and type in your QuickPass' number, and it will show you all the transactions you've made and how much you have remaining on your pass. Good luck with that. Let me know if it actually works for you, because all I get is "no movements, no information." Yeah.
  2. Sometimes you will find that the QuickPass doesn't work. It will say "QuickPass invalido" or "Vehiculo sin QuickPass." The first instance means you've run out of money, the second means it didn't read it properly. In the second instance, hand it to the person in the booth and they will type in the number, and if you have money left on your pass, you will be able to go through. In the first instance, if there is someone behind you, you can pay and they'll bitch at you; if there is no one behind you, they'll try to make you go in a pay lane, in which case you can bitch at them ("But I just charged it two days ago!" works for me) until they let you pay. Or you can back up and go in another lane, your choice.
  3. Try to keep tabs on how much money you've got in there. It would be great if the HSBC site actually worked, but since it doesn't, this is a little difficult. If you use the electronic tolls frequently, top up frequently (personally I just throw some cash at it each paycheck; I really have no idea how much is left on it -- maybe that's something I ought to look into?).
  4. Lots of idiots who don't have a QuickPass try to go through the QuickPass lane. Especially at rush hour, making the whole thing almost pointless. My advice is to hang back just a little until you see if the car/bus/truck in front of you actually goes through, then follow it. And if it doesn't go through, use another lane. If it's a bus, you can be about 95% sure they do not have a QuickPass, so avoid being behind those and use another lane.
  5. Wave at all the other suckers in line as you breeze through the QuickPass lane during rush hour. This is the fun part. heh heh...
  6. If you're using the Escazu tolls, know that the far left and far right QuickPass lanes are never open. I don't know why. It's really annoying. Heading toward San Jose from the direction of Santa Ana, make sure you get in the correct lane depending on where you're going next. If you're going to EPA or Escazu, use the far right lanes. If you're going to San Jose, the left lanes work best, but you can also use the third lane in from the right. I have actually seen someone cut across about 10 lanes of traffic (after using the far left lanes) to get off at the very next exit following the tolls. Yikes. Please don't be that person; it's so dangerous to you and everyone around you.
  7. Speaking of many lanes of traffice, there are like a gazillion toll booths in each direction. Well, maybe 12, I don't know. Costa Rican road engineers have not figured out how to get these lanes to merge into each other and then into three lanes, so you basically have what we call the "wild, wild west" section between the toll booths and the three-lane highway, where there are no marks on the road whatsoever. Again, yikes. So be careful. I don't think I need to tell you what idiots people drive like here. I'm pretty sure there is no direct translation for "merge" from English to Spanish. ;-)
  8. And after all these months of hassling with QuickPass, would I suggest getting one? If you use the tolls on a regular basis (I go into San Jose three or four times a week), I'd say hands down YES. The hassle of topping up seems relatively little compared to the hassle of digging around for change, waiting in lines, etc. If you have an HSBC near you with a drive through, that makes things even easier, although they can't tell you how much you have left on your pass at the drive through (you have to go in for that, and now you see why I have no idea how much money is on my QuickPass!). Also, you can use the QuickPass anywhere in the country that has QuickPass lanes, not just in San Jose. Now that there is a new highway to the beach, which I've heard gets pretty packed around the tolls during the weekends, this is another bonus to having one, even if you rarely go to the beach (personally, I can't stand going to the beach here, unless it's over in Manzanillo/Gandoca/Puerto Viejo area -- to hot and filthy).
That's all for now. I start working full-time on Monday (though it feels like I've already been doing that), so I'll probably have even less time to dedicate to this blog. So I'll sign off for a while, saying thanks for reading! I really do appreciate every comment, every page view I get! :-D