Council approves limits on 'surge pricing' for ride-hailing companies

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A high-stakes proposal that requires the city to set a cap on fares charged by ride-hailing companies was approved by the City Council on Wednesday.

The new limits on so-called "surge pricing" is unique in the nation, according to Uber and Lyft.

The measure must still be approved by the mayor, which is in doubt because his administration opposed the price cap at the council meeting.

The proposal was supported by taxi companies and drivers who say the ride-hailing companies are slowly destroying their business.

Other support came from those who say surge pricing, in which high demand pushes up prices, takes advantage of customers — such as service members returning from sea or people too intoxicated to resist.

Uber and Lyft say the prices incentivize their drivers to serve undesirable areas and meet high demand at odd hours. They also make it possible to be less expensive than cabs for most rides.

"Today's vote didn't reflect the thousands of local riders and drivers who have expressed a desire to keep rideshare reliable and affordable in Hawaii," Uber said, in a statement. "Bill 35 is a solution in search of a problem, as we've been told the city hasn't received a single consumer complaint about our dynamic pricing model."

The city Department of Customer Service said it opposed the cap because the ride-hailing companies already inform customers in advance of what the rides will cost, something that taxi cabs do not do.

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