Councilwoman seeks stricter regulations for ride-sharing companies

Councilwoman seeks stricter regulations for ride-sharing companies

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The latest version of a bill to "level the playing field" for ride-sharing companies now calls for Uber and Lyft drivers to pass tests similar to those taken by taxi drivers.

Their vehicles would also have to have identifying stickers and driver certificates displayed, just like cabbies.

The new proposal is spurring wide concerns from ride-sharing drivers and others.

"I don't operate as a taxi driver," Uber driver Lyla Dayrit said.

Honolulu City Council member Ann Kobayshi added the new requirements to the measure, and says they're aimed at protecting passengers.

"That's what we're concerned about. We want all the customers and riders to be safe," she said.

But Councilman Brandon Elefante said the bill fails to impose general excise tax requirements on ride-share drivers and incorrectly puts Uber and Lyft in the same category as cabs.

"I've always wanted two separate legislative ways of looking at both transportation network companies and taxicabs, and regulating both of them in separate frameworks," he said.

Kobayashi insists her measure isn't intended to regulate ride-shares.

Bill 36 also requires Uber and Lyft drivers to have a valid Hawaii driver's license. That would disqualify ride-share drivers who come from out of state.

In a statement, Uber says it will continue "thoughtful discussions with City Council members" and remains committed to "reaching a solution that is workable for all."

Meanwhile, EcoCab's David Jung said the bill allows Uber and Lyft to regulate themselves. He said it would be impossible for two city employees to verify a database of thousands of drivers.

"Uber has 4,000 drivers it claims. There's 1,800 to 2,000 taxi drivers. How are you going to audit all those files to keep us honest?" he said.

Kobayashi said the bill includes a $1,000 penalty for violating the certification requirements.

"We're not saying you're Uber, you're a TNC, you're a taxi company. All drivers will be equal," she said, adding that there would be ample time to amend the bill before it is poised to take effect in January.

Copyright 2016 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.