One of the requirements as an “official” taxi driver at the San José airport is to be able to speak English. However, many do not even know how to say “how are you?”.
For that reason, Transport authorities earlier this year began an investigation of the “orange force” (airport taxis are orange coloured).
On Monday, the Organismo de Investigacion Judicial (OIJ), after confirming that many of the drivers who held certificates of being able to speak English could not, raided two language centres, one in Alajuela and the other in Heredia and the Consejo de Transporte Publico (CTP) offices.
Authorities found that the “English” certificates were being purchased by drivers for between ¢45.000 and ¢150.000 (US$45 and US$300), used to get accredited by the CTP as an airport taxi driver.
Ten taxi drivers, the owner of the English school and an employee, were detained by the OIJ on Monday. The drivers face losing their concession, while the other two face charges of fraud.
In October 2011, the CTP began a re-organization of the taxi drivers at the Juan Santamaría airport when the concession holder refused to comply with the use of a taximeter or “maría” as it is called in Costa Rica.
The custom then was that a passenger purchased, in advance, a ticket to their destination. The cost of the service was based on the destination mapped out by the operator.
The CTP insisted on meters instead.
With the change, the CTP began the process replacing the operator of giving concessions to drivers with the requirement they be able to speak English.