City council considers bill to prevent surge pricing by ride-hailing companies

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The Honolulu City Council heard Wednesday another bill aimed at regulating ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft.

Bill 56 would establish a fare that drivers could charge passengers.

Right now, ride-hailing companies do not have a set fare rate and prices surge when taxi demand is higher.

“That’s my fiduciary duty to make sure (my drivers) can put food on the table and we do it within the rules and regulations, not some third party coming into this island and saying no, we’re going to change this whole thing,” said The Cab president Howard Higa. “It’s putting my drivers in an uneasy situation and they’re having a hard time right now.”

“Uber has various products. They have UberX. They have UberSelect, which is basically UberBlack. They have UberPool, and they’re looking at different types of products to put on the market,” said Bob Toyofuku, who testified on behalf of Uber. “When you have maximum fares, you have to have fares for each different product potentially. I think if you have an average, it would be somewhat difficult.”

Chelsea Harrison, Lyft’s senior policy communications manager, said in a statement:

“Oahu’s ride-sharing community is thriving, with thousands of people using Lyft to supplement their income and easily get around the island. Instead of rushing to pass regulations that could stifle this new service, we urge the Council to work with all stakeholders to ensure the rules allow ride-sharing to continue to grow. We remain committed to collaborating with the Council to develop a common-sense framework that keeps Lyft available to those who have come to depend upon it on the island.”

The bill is headed for a second reading, and a public hearing will be scheduled.

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