Honolulu city councilman proposes ban on ride share company surge pricing

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If you’ve ever used Uber or Lyft, you know they can charge you surge pricing.

That’s when they up their prices during peak hours.

However, a Honolulu city councilman says he doesn’t think that’s fair, and he wants to even out the playing field among transportation companies on the island.

Council Chair Ernie Martin told KHON2 this bill is the latest effort in addressing consumer concerns when choosing who to hitch a ride with.

If the measure passes, ride share companies would have a cap on how much they can charge for rides during peak usage hours.

So how are surge prices calculated?

According to Uber, if the usual cost of a ride is $10 but there’s 1.8 surge implemented during peak hours, that ride will now cost you $18.

“The issue of surge pricing has adversely affected the consumer. There is surge pricing in Hawaii as well,” Martin said.

“I think the bill is a responsible bill,” said Brenten Yamane, a commercial ride share driver.

Yamane said he supports surge pricing.

“It does take care of the demand issue so in other words if there’s a high amount of riders that are requesting rides and there’s not enough drivers, the price surge does encourage drivers to go online. The more drivers that go online, the surge rate starts to come down,” Yamane said.

However, he also agrees there needs to be a limit.

“I think the consumer needs some protection,” Yamane said. “If the ride share companies don’t want provide that cap and leave it to where the surge can surge out of control, then measures need to be taken to provide that control for them.”

Another point of the bill includes requiring each ride share company driver to be issued a certification number.

Taxi drivers already have numbers issued to them but drivers for Uber and Lyft only have to use a decal that identifies which company the driver works for.

“We’re trying to apply the same standard to transportation network companies so that it makes it easier for the consumer to identify,” Martin said.

We reached out to ride share companies to see what they had to say about this latest proposal.

A spokesperson for Uber Hawaii sent KHON2 a statement saying “Our dynamic fares help people quickly get a ride. And our upfront pricing lets riders know the exact cost of a trip before requesting it. It’s also important to point out that standard uberX prices are usually significantly less expensive than those charged by taxi. This is why we often hear from riders that they appreciate the affordability, reliability and convenience of using the Uber app.”

The issue will have its first reading during Wednesday’s city council meeting.
 

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