City proposal calls for Uber, Lyft to be treated like cabs

City proposal calls for Uber, Lyft to be treated like cabs
Published: Dec. 21, 2015 at 9:25 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 21, 2015 at 11:05 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In the last three weeks, Uber driver Kimo Sutton has gotten dozens of customers to their destinations in his personal car and charged them for it.

"I'm not a cab driver," he says.

Right now, the city agrees. But that might not last.

A City Council proposal seeks to expand the definition of a taxi company to include ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft. Their drivers would be subject to the same regulations cabbies follow.

Cab companies say the proposal is long overdue.

"They're doing exactly what we're doing. They get an order. They dispatch a vehicle. They put the two together and they go from Point A to Point B," said EcoCab's owner David Jung.

Bill 85 calls for ridesharing cars to have dome lights and taxi meters. Sutton and other rideshare drivers would no longer be able to use GPS to calculate distance to determine fares. Prices would be the same as taxis.

Honolulu City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi said the measure is about fairness.

"If our taxi drivers have to go through a process and others do not, then that would be unfair," she said.

But ridesharing companies say they're not cab companies -- and shouldn't be treated like them.

Uber, for example, says it's a technology company that uses a smart phone application to connect customers with drivers.

"Bill 85 fails to recognize the ways in which technology is offering the community a new and innovative way of connecting Hawaii residents to the people and places they love," said Taylor Patterson, of Uber Technologies.

The measure comes as other cities are also grappling with whether to pass laws regulating ridesharing companies much like cabs, and as Honolulu taxi companies say Uber and Lyft are attracting an increasing share of the market.

Jung said ridesharing companies have meant his profits are lower, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

For his part, Sutton, the Uber driver, said the ridesharing app is just meeting a demand for a service.

"I get people that get into the car, they appreciate Uber so much that they have stories about taxis and the horror stories of being in taxis and they would never take a taxi again," he said.

Copyright 2015 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.