On September 25, Rodolfo Méndez, the Ministro de Obras Públicas y Transportes (MOPT), admitted that all sectors would be taken into account in the drafting of the regulations for the public transport of people, but last week changed his mind and left out the Uber company out of the roundtable.
The reversal of decision by Méndez could be linked to the anger displayed by the official taxi drivers on the MOPT’s intention to include Uber in the negotiations.
The inclusion of Uber in the drafting of regulations was made by Méndez during his appearance before the Comisión de Asuntos Económicos.
Former Alajuela mayor and now legislator for the National Liberation Party (PLN), Roberto Thompson, confirmed the statement by the transport minister, who told legislators expressly that “they (Uner) are going to have to be considered”.
However, on Friday, MOPT deputy minister, Eduardo Brenes, confirmed that Uber is not part of the talks because it is an illegal service.
Rubén Vargas, General Secretary of the Unión de Taxistas Costarricenses (Union of Costa Rican Taxi Drivers), confirmed that they are part of that work team that is drafting the final proposal and said that “in order for Uber to be regulated, the taxi drivers union demand that Uber have signage, pay taxes, insurance, a limited number of vehicles and equal rates”.
The draft is expected to reach legislators to begin discussion in early 2019.
Since Uber is a software platform that connects private parties it created a legal vaccum that the public transportation law of Costa Rica did not address. As Uber began to grow in Costa Rica so did the hostility of the taxi services against Uber drivers and the company.
Uber began operations in Costa Rica in August 2015 and reports having more than 22,000 associates (independent drivers) and over 740,000 users, and a source of direct employment for 550 people.