The pandemic effect on traffic and emissions

Using data from the Estado de la Nación (State of the Nation), Álvaro Murillo, a journalist for Semanario Universidad, reported that between March 2020 and March 2021 vehicular journeys in Costa Rica reduced by 24 per cent due to the health and travel restrictions imposed to avoid the spread of Covid-19.

In the fifteen months before the beginning of the pandemic, the average daily distance travelled by Costa Rican vehicles was 46 kilometers. This was reduced to 35 kilometers in the twelve months from March 2020. Buses and coaches were particularly severely impacted, with a reduction from an average of 125 kilometers per day to 74 kilometers daily.

The reduction in vehicular traffic gave rise to a reduction of 27 per cent in carbon emissions. Before the pandemic, the annual emission of CO2 amounted to 7.8 million tonnes whilst in the twelve months from the start of the pandemic emissions reduced to 5.7 million tonnes. The report suggested that three quarters of this reduction was due to the reduction in car and heavy vehicle traffic.

The monthly use of public transport fell from 45 million passengers before the pandemic to less than 20 million during the first year of the pandemic, a fall of 57 per cent. Monthly passenger journeys on the urban train system fell from 291,416 to 54,896, meaning that for every five people who used the urban train system before the pandemic, only one used it during the first twelve months of the pandemic.

The Programa Estado de la Nación (PEN) (State of the Nation Programme) is a research and innovation centre for the promotion of sustainable human development. The Programme is run by the Consejo Nacional de Rectores (CONARE) (National Council of University Governors) with input from the five public universities of Costa Rica and the National Ombudsman.


  • Álvaro Murillo (22.11.21), ‘Tránsito vehicular se redujo 24% y emisiones de carbono 27% en año pandémico’, Semanario Universidad, San José.
  • Informe Estado de la Nación, 2021, Consejo Nacional de Rectores (CONARE), Pavas, San José.