San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Taxis vs. Uber

Taxi drivers to demonstrate against Uber in downtown San José

Commuters, beware: taxi drivers plan to stage another demonstration against ride-hailing service Uber. Their procession will begin at La Sabana Park and end at the Supreme Court.

Taxi drivers are demanding that the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, issue a ruling on a suit presented in 2015 regarding the legality of Uber‘s operations in Costa Rica.

Uber launched operations here in August 2015 but Traffic Police soon began fining drivers and confiscating their vehicles, maintaining that the service is illegal.

Libertarian lawmakers Otto Guevara and Natalia Díaz filed a complaint before the Sala IV in October 2015, arguing that the articles of the Commerce Code and the Public Transport Law that impede the legal operation of Uber are in fact unconstitutional.

The Sala IV admitted the Libertarians’ complaint and ordered the Traffic Police to suspend all sanctions against Uber drivers pending a ruling.

Gilbert Ureña, the leader of the National Forum of Taxi Drivers, said this week in a statement that the primary goal of today’s demonstration is to urge the justices to issue a ruling soon. The group also called on President Luis Guillermo Solís to ask the Sala IV move forward with the ruling.

Taxi drivers want a ruling as soon as possible because they believe that Uber operations will damage their earnings in December, their busiest season, Ureña said.

Drivers promise peaceful march

Taxi association leaders met with Public Security Ministry officials on Tuesday and promised that they “will defend their rights in peace, respect and in accordance with the law.”

Security Vice Minister Juan José Andrade said in a statement that police will not allow taxis to block public roads or obstruct citizens’ rights to free transit.

The ministry confirmed that the demonstration will start at 9 a.m. and that taxis will make a stop in front of the Finance Ministry in downtown San José, across from the National Theater. There, they will ask ministry officials to open an investigaton of Uber’s tax obligations.

Taxi drivers have staged several public demonstrations against Uber since last year. Most of them included widespread blockades of streets, major highways, ports and airports.

There were also incidents of taxistas damaging vehicles and attacking citizens who tried to avoid the blockades. Various groups of taxi drivers have clashed with National Police officers.

The latest taxi drivers’ demonstration took place on August 9. Clashes with the police resulted in 78 drivers arrested and 20 vehicles seized.

Contact L. Arias at

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I don’t completely comprehend the taxistas’ complaint against Uber. Yes I get that there seems to be a bit more convenience with Uber, but don’t most taxi drivers have cell phones? It would seem that the majority do. They also have business cards with their cell numbers on them which can be offered to fares or to those fares who ask for one.

I personally have struck up acquaintances with a small handful of taxi drivers and asked for their business cards and learned each of their work hours. That way I now have three or four I can call during the day and the same for evening hours. This often proves helpful during rush times when the taxi dispatcher cannot find you a cab. You may have to wait a little if your chosen taxista has a fare when you call him, but that is better than no taxi at all. And using one of my selected taxistas I never have to deal with a surly driver.

Since I made that effort I now have enough contacts that I can find one of another of them at almost any time I need a taxi. And on top of that a couple of them have become friends and also offer me advice for where to find things I am looking for. (It has also been a good way to improve my spanish.)

And having regular taxistas helps me avoid those drivers who, thinking that I’m a turista or novice in CR, try tricks hoping to pad their fare by purposely driving thru congested areas or taking the ‘long way round’ to go to my destination.

Uber may be efficient and safe and save a few shekels but it’s unlikely that I am going make friends with any of the Uber drivers since it’s the nearest vehicle that repies to your request and so you won’t get the same car/driver repeatedly.

The taxistas overall could ensure keeping their fares by being more simpatico to their clients and offering them their business cards.

All that said, I believe there is a place for both red taxis, piratas, and Uber in Costa Rica. Such a competition should be good for the customer and well as these drivers.

Paul M.

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Hachi Ko

The biggest complaint with Uber is that it’s running a taxi service without all of the obligations, which the taxi drivers see as unfair competition. Uber doesn’t have to comply with any of the regulations or pay any of the fees which the taxis must pay. Uber plays semantics by saying that it only provides the app and the drivers are all independent contractors. Using that logic, any taxi can be an Uber… “Hey, we just provide the phone number and the cars.”

The best way for the taxis to protest is to forget about Uber and just rip out the meters and stop paying their fees and taxes. That’s all that Uber has done.

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