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Uber is a transportation service present in more than 10,000 cities around the globe, and Costa Rica is no exception. If you were wondering if there is Uber in Costa Rica, the answer is yes.
This article will expand on several aspects of Uber, other available transportation options, and tips, so keep reading to learn more about this topic.
What is the current situation with Uber in Costa Rica?
Uber was launched in Costa Rica on August 21, 2015, with the clear objective of making transportation more accessible and more affordable in Costa Rica than taxis, which until then, were the only choice for public transportation besides buses.
In the last few years, Uber has become the preferred choice for locals and is also gaining more popularity with tourists, especially in the main cities of San Jose. Outside the great metropolitan area, Uber isn’t really that available.
The presence of Uber in Costa Rica has generated some controversy, especially among taxi drivers. They have seen the threat that this new means of transportation has posed to them as everybody instead using Uber for a few reasons:
- It is more reliable. When you order an Uber, you know the name of the driver that will pick you up, the type of car, the license plate number, and the amount you will end up paying. If something isn’t right with the service, or if you leave something in the car, it is easy to get a hold of the driver.
- Uber drivers seem to be friendlier and care more about offering a good service. You may attribute this to the fact that they are evaluated after each ride, but whether that’s true or not, who cares? The important thing is to feel comfortable and enjoy a pleasant ride.
- It is cheaper than a taxi. The difference can be around 10-15% less.
- It is practical. You just have to download the uber app on your phone, create an uber account, know your destination, put your pick-up location, and you are done!
- Pickup location. Having Uber pick you up exactly where you are is super helpful, versus having to walk to a bus stop or waiting, especially if it is raining if you are carrying several bags or something heavy. Under conditions like that, the “extra cost” of paying an Uber instead of using a cheaper public bus is totally worth it.
- Multiple options to pay for your trip. Another benefit Uber offers is that you can choose how you want to be charged (credit card, debit card, or cash).
Is Uber available throughout the territory of Costa Rica?
No, Uber is only available throughout the Greater Metropolitan Area in the province of San Jose, a few main cities in the province of Guanacaste, such as Liberia, Tamarindo, Cañas and surrounding beaches, the city of Jaco in the province of Puntarenas, the town of La Fortuna in San Carlos, some other towns in Alajuela province, Pérez Zeledón, Guápiles, Guácimo, Siquirres and the province of Limon.
Is Uber legal in Costa Rica?
The technical answer is no. Uber has been operating illegally as the State has been unable to regulate its operation. On the other hand, the fact that it is not 100% legal has not stopped it from offering its service in Costa Rica. Taxes are being paid now to the government, which puts Uber in a middle ground.
The main issue Uber has brought in Costa Rica has been confrontations and complaints from angry taxi drivers who have seen how their jobs have diminished considerably, even when they are the ones running legally in the country.
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Other transportation services available in Costa Rica
The transportation services that are currently available in Costa Rica besides Uber are:
This Chinese-based company is quite similar to Uber. It also has an app that you can download, and the service provided follows the same process.
Taxi (red cabs):
Costa Rica taxis are red, and they have a yellow triangle outside the front doors, so you can easily identify them. They are everywhere. The typical taxi driver in Costa Rica doesn’t speak the best English, but as long as you tell them where you are going, you should be fine. They are regulated by the state, so, in theory, their fare is set depending on mileage.
Airport taxis in Costa Rica are usually only located at San Jose International airport, they are orange, and they are supposed to be the only ones approved to get and drop off travelers at the airport. The reality is that they are known for being more expensive than any other type of transportation, and locals rarely use them.
You can find car rentals throughout all seven provinces in Costa Rica, and certainly at their two international airports (Juan Santamaria Airport [SJO] and Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia- [LIR]). If you plan on staying for a few days in Costa Rica and you want to visit different destinations, renting a car is the best choice.
Bus transportation in Costa Rica is cheap, reliable, and numerous, but depending on certain routes and times, they can get really crowded. You can go from one frontier to the other using only a bus if you want to. The downside is that you waste extra time and some freedom as your time is compromised and needs to align with the timetable of the bus company.
These random drivers will take you everywhere but charge you whatever they want, as they are not regulated by the Costa Rican government either. They tend to be close to farmers’ markets, busy bus stops train lines, and outside special events like concerts, soccer games, and more. They are not necessarily bad, as they can also be a friend of a friend or someone highly recommended and trustworthy, so it all depends.
Tips for using Uber in Costa Rica
Based on experience, here there are the best tips we can offer when using Uber in Costa Rica:
- Be aware of rush hour. Rush hours mean more expensive trips, so if you have flexibility, try to avoid traveling from 6 am to 8 am and from 4 pm to 7 pm.
- Uber is best to be used in San Jose. If you plan to go to the beach, national parks, or towns outside the great metropolitan area, we recommend you rent a car.
- Make sure you have enough data in your phone or are logged to wifi.
- It is best to avoid paying with cash and instead use the credit or debit card you added to your profile. That way, you don’t have to wait for change, and it is just safer.
- Uber is, at the moment, banned from the airport, so the wifi there will not allow you to access the Uber app. Try to use the shuttle service from your hotel, ask a friend to pick you up, rent a car, or use the orange cabs located outside the airport. Getting dropped off at the airport by an Uber driver is no problem.
We hope you found in this article useful and clarifying information regarding Uber and public transportation options. Enjoy your ride, whatever that may be.