Thursday 29 September 2022

Costa Ricans Have The Right to Choose Uber or Taxis

Bill to regulate transport apps faces resistance from associations of free consumers and taxis against the government's proposed bill

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Costa Ricans have the right to choose the transport service to use, whether it be Uber, any other ride app or taxis, stated Juan Ricardo Fernández, president of Consumidores Libres (Free Consumers) before the legislative committee analyzes the draft bill to regulate paid technological platforms to transport people, such as Uber and others.

Fernández, in the hearing held on Tuesday, April 9, said the association recalls, the “pleito”- the fight in 2011 between the formal taxi drivers and ‘porteadores’ (informal taxis), when they negotiated a deal with the government without taking into account the consumer.

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The Asociación stresses that individuals, who with their budget make the decision on what to buy and from whom, in pursuit of their own well-being and family, is a right of all Costa Ricans.

Fernandez emphasized the need for free competition and called on legislators to create a new text taking into account the needs of users

“The customer is always right,” and in this case, according to Fernández, the government never summoned them or consulted them about the bill.

“We cannot move forward if we cling to ways of the past that no longer work, there are important principles, the interests of consumers must be protected, the right to choose must be respected and there must be open markets. We believe that competition is the best ally of consumers,” said Fernández.

Also critical of the bill, but not in favor of the consumer having the right to choose, appearing before the committee was Rigorberto Aguilar Solís, president of the Asociación Nacional de Transportes Terrestres y Afines para Movilidad Integral (ASOTRAMI) – National Association of Land Transport and Allied for Integral Mobility, that brings together conventional taxi drivers.

Aguilar acknowledged that they have been against the government’s position and have had opposite criteria with other formal organizations of taxi drivers, in terms of the regulation of technological platforms.

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The ASOTRAMI head assures that the project to regulate Uber must be restructured because there is an overlapping intention to legalize a monopoly.

“When Uber lowered its rates and allowed cash payments, there was a change in the perception by Ticos of taxi drivers, who (until then) were well seen, and now we earn 30% of before,” Aguilar said.

“If this (Uber) is legalized, on their consciences will be that the State was deprived of a public good because of the interest towards the population to legalize the transnationals that seek to harm the economy,” the taxi drivers representative told the legislators of the committee.

For the group, there should be no other segment that competes with the service authorized by the State. “Since 1975 there is no private transport, we have the right of concession, the laws are not eternal and can change but before they will have to answer us for that right of concession,” said Aguilar.

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Multinationals such as UBER “disguise themselves as collaborative mobility, when in reality they are companies that profit and provide the same services as taxi drivers, only outside the law,” concluded Aguilar.

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