Hawaii taxicab companies in need of more drivers to meet demand

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Taxicabs are seeing a resurgence.

More tourism is driving up demand but some taxi companies said their main priority is getting more drivers to meet all of the calls for service.

The calls at TheCab dispatch center are non-stop. TheCab owner Howard Higa said they had about 500 drivers with the company pre-pandemic. Drivers are slowly coming back.

Higa said, “We’re about 350 cabs now, even with the 350 cabs, we still can’t supply the amount of calls that are coming in or the demand.”

Higa said dispatch gets about 2,500 calls a day, but the wait times are getting longer with a limited number of drivers.

“I take calls all the time, and I have to apologize to these people because they say we used to call before and it was about five minutes,” Higa said. “That was before, right now, we’re really under the gun, because so many tourists coming in. It’s overloading the system.”

Charley’s Taxi spokesperson Tom Nauwelaerts said the company is facing similar issues.

Nauwelaerts said, “We are running around and getting drivers to cover almost as much business as we used to with only about a third of the fleet that we were working with before.”

Local cab companies believe more people are back to hitching cabs because of surge pricing from certain ride-sharing apps.

They also said the shortage of car rentals is contributing to the demand.

Lucky Owl Car Rental owner Sava Mankovsiy said they are booked about two months out, despite attempts to get more cars.

“We get our cars from wherever we can,” Mankovsiy said. “Facebook, Craigslist, dealerships, auction, just anywhere. If it’s a good car, it’s clean, it will keep our customer happy and we can afford, we’re going to buy it.” 

High demand and lack of supply is an issue across industries.

“The drivers haven’t returned because they are still concerned about COVID,” Higa said. “Second, I think they are getting money from the government, so they chose not to work right now.”

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