State announces Uber, Lyft pilot program at Honolulu airport

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The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) will implement a pilot program allowing Lyft and Uber to pick up passengers at two designated locations at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL).

The program begins Friday, Dec. 1, and will last for three months.

“The program provides an additional transportation option for airport passengers,” said Hawaii Department of Transportation Director Jade Butay. “We anticipate the service will cut the overall wait times for customers regardless of their preferred transportation choice, especially during peak hours, and the pilot program will help us determine if that is the case. We want this to be successful for all stakeholders, including our passengers and residents.”

Uber and Lyft have been granted a temporary permit during the three-month pilot program.

There will be two designated pickup areas on airport property and both are located on the second level median curb. One pickup location is at the Interisland Terminal across from Lobby 2 and another is located at the Overseas Terminal across from Lobby 8. The pickup areas will be designated with a black curb with Uber/Lyft painted on the side.

Uber will offer uberX and uberXL for pickups at the airport. The ride-sharing company says a typical ride from the airport will cost:

  • To Waikiki: $24
  • To downtown Honolulu: $17
  • To Kapolei: $36

“Over the past two years, we’ve been having thoughtful negotiations and discussions at the airport to ensure we got this right. We know one of (the state Department of Transportation’s) goals is reducing wait times, and we think we can really help there,” said Uber Hawaii senior manager Tabatha Chow.

Taxi companies say the new change at the airport is bad news.

“Most of these guys been working this airport anywhere from 15 to 25 years, and this is the last taxis that are not affected by Uber, because outside of the airport, taxis lost their income because of Uber,” said Robert Deluze, owner of Roberts Taxi.

Deluze predicts taxi drivers will lose about 50 percent of their income once the pilot program goes into effect. He says ride-sharing companies are not regulated the same way as taxi companies.

“We don’t mind the competition, but we just want it to be a level-playing field, which it has never been from day one,” Deluze said.

Currently, taxi companies must pay the Department of Transportation fees to work at the airport.

All local companies providing ground transportation at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport must provide commercial vehicle insurance, whether or not a passenger is in the vehicle, and have a state-issued authorization sticker permanently affixed to each vehicle.

Uber says it is not required to have commercial vehicle insurance, but all drivers are covered under the company’s $1 million insurance policy.

DOT spokesman Tim Sakahara says Uber and Lyft will now be regulated, because the companies had to agree to pay a percentage to the state if they wanted to pick up at the airport.

“They are paying the fees. Seven percent of every fare will be going to the airport, which is important, because remember, the Airports Division and Hawaii transportation in general, it’s self sustaining. We don’t get some of that traditional taxpayer money. We generate our own revenue,” said Sakahara.

Drivers are not allowed to solicit customers or wait on airport property without an assigned prescheduled customer. Drivers picking up passengers outside the designated areas will be subject to citation.

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