Friday morning, the ride-hailing service Uber tweeted that it would be starting service in Costa Rica by 4:00 p.m.
To kick off operations, the company announced the promotional code “PuraVida” to cover a user’s first two ride up to ₡5,000 each.
¿Estas listo para pedir #UberTico? ¡Los usuarios nuevos pueden usar el código PuraVida para tener dos viajes de hasta 5 mil colones gratis!
— Uber Costa Rica (@Uber_CR) August 21, 2015
Uber is a smartphone application that allows riders to hail a private car using their phone’s GPS service and pay for the ride with a pre-loaded credit card. There are already ride-hailing apps in Costa Rica, like Easy Taxi, but these services do not support Uber’s online payment system that avoids the need to exchange cash or credit cards in the taxi.
Max Cortés, Uber’s expansion manager for Latin America, previously told The Tico Times that Uber rides would be roughly 15 percent cheaper than their red taxi competitors. Base ride fares for Uber in Costa Rica start at ₡1,000, just under $2. The service will be offered along the central corridor of the San José Greater Metropolitan Area, from Lindora to San José to Curridabat, and Heredia.
The company has been holding regular training sessions in San José since Aug. 15 for interested drivers. All Uber vehicles need to be 2008 models or newer, have four doors, and pass a vehicle inspection by the company. Drivers need to pass a background check and have all the legal requirements to drive in Costa Rica. Commercial car insurance that covers them for accidents and damage to their vehicle, passengers and third parties is also required.
Non-Costa Ricans who have a valid residency (cédula) and meet all the previous requirements can drive for Uber, according to an email from the company.