A new bill aims to tighten rules for taxi cabs on Oahu and require those who offer a similar service to follow the same laws.
Rideshare programs, like Uber and Lyft, continue to grow in popularity by allowing people to use their own cars to give rides.
A bill that would have required those drivers to buy more insurance failed this past legislative session. Now, councilmembers are trying to level the playing field for those companies and taxi cabs.
“To then have to compete for companies such as Uber and Lyft, we want to make sure our small business companies are protected,” said Honolulu City Councilmember Ann Kobayashi.
“You take someone from point A to point B and what it is, it’s a taxi. If it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, it’s a duck,” said Howard Higa of TheCab.
Drivers of rideshare programs would face the same regulations as taxi cab drivers who must have a certificate. To get one, the driver needs a Hawaii driver’s license and driving experience. They must also know traffic laws and the English language.
Kobayashi believes all drivers should take the language test, more than what’s required now, which is just once.
“We received many complaints about the driver not understanding English, not knowing directions,” she said.
Supporters of the bill say it’s not just about making things equal and fair across the board, but it’s also about public safety.
The bill would require drivers to undergo stricter background checks.
“I do support the bill for several reasons, and one of the main reasons is for the consumer,” Higa said.
The bill would also prohibit using a GPS system to measure distance to calculate fares, and the city would adopt rules to set fares and fees.
We tried to contact Uber, but have not heard back.