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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Governor rejects notion that free transportation is election driven

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia on Thursday denied that the proposal to make mass transit free of cost for six months is motivated by the upcoming primary elections.

“Well, first of all, I can’t paralyze the government’s management because we’re in an election year,” the governor said at a press conference. “In other words, the government has to continue its function, and every time I do something that is for the benefit of the people, if the response is going to be that I am doing it for electoral reasons, then the truth is that we are very bad. On the contrary, all the time we have to be celebrating the improvements in government services to our people, whenever they occur.”

“So, as I indicated, what we are doing here is the same thing that has been done in other jurisdictions,” Pierluisi added. “When improvements like this are carried out, which obviously … can affect the flow of traffic on the urban train, [then] what is done is that a promotional fare is … established.”

During the next six months, the mass transit system will undergo improvements including the installation of fiber optics in all train stations and global positioning systems in buses. There will also be inspections, quality controls, civil works, and the incorporation of General Transit Feed Specification scheduling systems, which are standard in the public transportation industry.

In the first phase, new collection and access equipment for public transport will be installed. Estimated to last until summer, the phase includes ticket machines, access doors and validators for buses.

The payment machines will enable easy payments with credit cards, debit cards, chips, contactless payments, train cards and mobile apps. All the forms of payment will be accepted when the work is completed, after the validation of the systems and an orientation phase for passengers.

Free transit service begins Friday, March 1, for users of the Urban Train, Metropolitan Bus Authority buses, Metro Bus, Metro Urbano and Tu Conexión buses, for approximately six months. The governor said that when the free period ends, no cost increase is expected. The determination was reported to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in accordance with the regulations governing the systems.

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