HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On a good day taxi driver Robert Mingus pockets $80 to $150, depending on how many trips he can squeeze in from the Honolulu International Airport to Waikiki.
Now the City Council is moving in on his domain, advancing a bill that would set the rate for the run at about $40 no matter what the meter in his car says.
"We're making so much less now than we were two years ago, so that four or five dollars less is going to be devastating," Mingus said.
Council chairman Ernie Martin is pushing the bill. The Hawaii Hotel and Lodging Association told him at times taxi drivers overcharge visitors on the airport to Waikiki run.
"From what they reported to me when they discussed this measure, it's gone as high to $65 to $75 for just a one-way trip," he said.
Airport cabbies say that's probably because of uncontrollable circumstances like traffic and red lights. They feel a flat rate would force them to absorb that loss on top of other costs, like the $4.00 fee they pay for the ticket that's tacked onto every airport-Waikiki trip.
"Remember, thirty to forty percent is paid out to insurance and these tickets," Mingus said.
Taxi drivers think the meter system is sufficient because it doesn't lie.
"If the meter says $33 to the Ilikai or $35 to Sheraton, that's what you collect. That's what you ask for," airport cab driver Charles Quiroz said.
The council passed the bill on first reading. The next stop is the Transportation committee.
"There's a lot of work to a flat-rate fare. But as it stands now, I cannot be in favor of that," The Cab president Howard Higa said.
"This is about reducing what we make," Mingus said.
Airport cabbies say they're not getting rich and charging a flat rate would make earning a living even tougher.