Would-be drivers for Uber in Costa Rica can now rent their rides

November 6, 2015

Want to drive for Uber in Costa Rica but don’t have a car? No problem.

The ride-hailing service announced in late October that it had reached an agreement with the company ANC Ground Services to start renting vehicles for the express purpose of driving for Uber. But car rental is just the latest ancillary business here in a growing stable of affiliated services for the transportation app.

Offering rides in newer cars has been a standout for Uber here considering that red taxis can be as old as 15 years before they are legally required to be taken off the road, according to Public Transportation Council rules. Uber does not accept vehicles with a model year older than 2008 and many Costa Ricans don’t have cars new enough to qualify.

More than 50 percent of the cars on Costa Rica’s roads are 16 years or older, according to figures from Riteve, the company responsible for mandatory vehicle inspections here.

The main models offered for rent by ANC are the Suzuki Swift and Dzire, and Toyota Yaris, according to an email to the Tico Times from Uber spokeswoman Rocío Paniagua.

Renting wheels to drive people around isn’t unique to Uber. Many red taxi drivers pay daily rates to the concession holder of their cab.

Uber has similar renting or leasing agreements in other countries, including Mexico and the United States. In July, Uber announced its own leasing service, Xchange Leasing, for U.S. drivers who want to drive for the ride-hailing service but don’t have a qualifying vehicle.

Uber cars, Uber insurance, Uber water

Uber might be best known as an app but there’s a whole ancillary economy dedicated to outfitting the company’s drivers and maintaining its vehicles.

Uber Costa Rica previously announced an agreement with the insurance company Qualitas to cover drivers. The public National Insurance Institute has said it won’t cover drivers working with the company because, well, it’s still technically illegal.

The Public Works and Transport Ministry and the Government Attorney’s Office have both said that Uber does not have legal permission to operate here but has no enforcement strategy to clamp down on drivers. Uber has operated continuously since it launched here on August 21.

In Mexico, meanwhile, Paniagua said that the company has agreements with several affiliated companies ranging from car insurers and mechanics to telecommunications providers for smartphones — even the bottled water offered to riders.

Paniagua said the company was in talks to offer more affiliated services in Costa Rica. No word yet if the company is negotiating with Gallito to offer Guayabitas in its vehicles here.

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