In February a group of taxi drivers protested in front of the Supreme Court of Justice looking to a decision from the Constitutional Court (Sala IV) over the operation of UBER in the country. (Alonso Tenorio, La Nacion)

Q COSTA RICA  – In April 2016, ruling party (PAC) legislator, Franklin Corella, introduced a bill to regulate UBER in Costa Rica and services offering “collaborative transport” by way of Apps (Internet-based applications).

A year and month later, the bill remains stalled, awaiting political will.

Although Corella introduced the bill during the vivacity of UBER’s arrival in the country, neither legislators nor the Executive Branch of the government has actively promoted regulation.

The result has been government run-ins with the taxi drivers unions, meanwhile, UBER continues to thrive, increasing ridership, and similar services entering the foray.

“Respectfully, I think that the Government is wrong in its address of the issue, it is not with indifference or to avoid, and to make that nothing is happening in the country, when there is a legal uncertainty…the sensible thing is to go towards regulation and dialogue,” Corella told La Nacion.

The legislator insists that the operation of UBER and the arrival of others, impose the need to place an order in this modality of service.

“Either block the platform is blocked, which seems to me the wrong decision, or proceed with regulation and the government should subscribe to that discussion,” Corella emphasized.

Luis Paulino Mora, vice minister of the Presidency, accepted that there has been no greater effort by the government to push through regulation, saying that Casa Presidencial (Presidential House) efforts are to focus on other public transport priorities, such as the (bus) route sectorization plan and the regulation of tariffs.

The bill, that was never placed on the legislative agenda, explains Corella, not only regulates the industry but, also proposes a 5% tax on each trip by way of the Apps and the creation of a ‘collaborative mobility office” within the Ministry of Economy, Industry, and Commerce (MEIC).

The latter to keep track of companies using the technology and ensure the safety of users.

The Controversy Is Not Over

While the government has ended plans for regulation, the controversy is not over.

The Autoridad Reguladora de Servicios Publicos (Aresep) has agreed to (once again) review the UBER situation in the country, this following a long day of protests by taxi drivers and meeting with taxi drivers union leaders on May 10.

On that occasion, the taxi drivers and their union obtained a commitment by the Aresep for an answer on whether or not there will be a shutting down of the UBER (App) or some type of regulation with the current legal framework.

This answer is expected by June 10.

At the court level, the Constitutional Court, in February last, reactivated the application of fines for drivers that provided public transport services without being duly registered with the State.