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Yes, Uber Costa Rica is still illegal, says transport ministry

September 13, 2015

A legal review by the Public Transportation Council has decided that the ride-hailing service Uber Costa Rica is illegal. The decision came just days after Costa Rica General Manager Humberto Pacheco met with Public Works and Transport Ministry officials to discuss Uber’s standing here. Uber Costa Rica service went live here on Aug. 21.

“The transportation service that Uber offers through a mobile app is an illegal transportation service due to the fact that it does not have the corresponding authorizations,” said Public Transportation Council (CTP) director Mario Zárate in a statement. As long as Uber does not have permission from CTP, the review said, it is operating illegally in Costa Rica.

The CTP report brushed aside the possibility of Uber Costa Rica appealing the council’s decision on grounds of the Central American Free Trade Agreement, to which Costa Rica and the United States are signatories, saying that Costa Rica reserved the right to regulate transportation in all its forms.

Uber Costa Rica continues to dispute the government’s characterization of its services.

“Uber is not a transportation company and the service that its partners offer to members is not a taxi service,” Uber spokeswoman Rocío Paniagua said in a statement emailed to The Tico Times.

The statement characterizes Uber as a technology platform that connects community members to fulfill their mobility needs. “The service that Uber partners offer is clearly distinguishable from any other transportation service, including taxis,” Paniagua said.

Despite the government’s opposition to the ride-hailing service, it has yet to decide on an enforcement strategy that would keep Uber vehicles off the road here. President Luis Guillermo Solís’ administration previously said that it has no plans to block Uber. The company, meanwhile, continues to sign up new users. Paniagua said that 30,000 people in Costa Rica have registered with the company since it began operations.

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