Confrontations of taxistas and Uber drivers reported to be violent

The public transportation situation in the country is becoming violent. Vehicles and drivers for the Internet service Uber are facing aggression and attempts at intimidation.

The central government issued an announcement Sunday saying that it repudiated such activities. It also said that the Policía de Tránsito are to enforce the laws about illegal drivers.

Licensed taxi drivers have their jobs to protect. Although there were existing Internet taxi services when Uber entered the market, the services involved licensed drivers.

The licensed drivers threw eggs and other material at their colleagues who did not participate in a recent work stoppage.  Although there were incidents of egg-throwing that made the television news, police did not take any action at that time.

The details of the attacks against Uber drivers are uncertain because there have not been any formal complaints to police. The licensed drivers have been pressing the administration to take action against the U.S. firm, but the Luis Guillermo Solís administration seems hesitant to do so perhaps because Uber has installed a call center in Costa Rica.

Licensed taxi drivers have been waging a lengthy battle with unlicensed drivers who claim to be contract workers, the portadores. That battle has been going on for years with the licensed drivers and the unlicensed drivers staging blockades and protests.

Now Uber seems to be using the same tactics and bases its service on private contracts between drivers and passengers.

While portadores usually serviced the low-income neighborhoods and places where licensed drivers did not want to go, the Uber drivers seem to be getting customers from the more monied class.

Of course, the licensed drivers have substantial requirements, not limited to inspection twice a year for their vehicles and maintaining liability insurance. Uber drivers have no such oversight or requirements.

The government also now requires licensed drivers to get rid of any vehicles older than the year 2000.

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