The City and County of Honolulu has been relatively hostile towards ride-hailing providers Uber and Lyft. And, things may become harder for them as Honolulu may implement a surge pricing cap.
Uber and Lyft already operate under more stringent rules and regulations than most other cities we travel to. For example, until recently, drivers couldn’t pickup passengers at the airport. And, the Honolulu City Council periodically proposes bills to treat Uber and Lyft just like taxi companies. Thankfully, none have passed thus far. However, a bill currently going through the process may.
Last week the Honolulu City Council voted 6-3 to approve Bill 35. The bill, if it becomes law, would be the first in the U.S. to place caps on how much Uber and Lyft may charge. Those in favor of the bill say its necessary to “ensure the public’s safety” and “preventing ride-hailing companies from charging exorbitant amounts to passengers when they’re most vulnerable.”
I call B.S. And, Honolulu’s mayor and Department of Customer Services don’t seem to agree with the bill either. They both think the free market should be left to make these sorts of decisions. I agree. In fact, I recall seeing an official on the news questioning why this topic is even being considered, being that the City hasn’t received any formal complaints about it.
I’ve never heard of anyone complaining about ride-hailing in Hawaii. If anything, I hear and read of more people asking for the services to become more accessible in Hawaii. But the Honolulu City Council, in all of their esteemed wisdom, thought this issue worthy of legislation. Even though Honolulu suffers from many other issues, including crushing cost of living, widespread homelessness, crumbling infrastructure, the exodus of residents, and more. Creating new laws for an issue the public isn’t talking about seems like a great use of time and taxpayer resources.
For now, though, the Bill remains just that, a bill. Mayor Caldwell has 10 working days to sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature. The Bill passed on June 7, so we’ll know for sure on June 21.
Honolulu May Implement a Surge Pricing Cap, Final Thoughts
I know ride-hailing companies have their issues, especially Uber. But this Bill’s purpose of protecting consumers is weak. After all, I’ve been ripped off by cabbies more than by Uber drivers. And guess what? I’ve taken far more Uber drivers than cab rides. Further, Uber and Lyft provide a quick, easy way to dispute billing issues, unlike cab companies. Plus, while Uber and Lyft drivers often aren’t the greatest drivers in Honolulu, taxi drivers are often equally horrible too. I’m just glad my City Council Member didn’t vote in-favor of this Bill.