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New Local Ride-Sharing Business Born Out of the Pandemic


The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on local businesses from restaurants to retailers. But for one Maui entrepreneur, it also presented a new opportunity.

Last year’s economic shutdown due to COVID-19 caused many Hawaiʻi rental car companies to sell off a significant portion of their fleet. Now that visitor arrivals are nearly back to pre-pandemic levels, rental cars are either sold out or very expensive.

While some visitors have turned to peer-to-peer car rental sites like Turo, others have turned to ride-sharing — and there's a new business in town.

Cecil Morton's new ride-sharing app "holoholo" launched earlier this summer with a community of drivers and vehicles that riders can request from their smartphones.

Morton has been in the local ground transportation industry for 27 years as the CEO of businesses like SpeediShuttle and Arthur’s Limousine Service. Morton spoke to The Conversation about what prompted him to start the business.

“During the pandemic, I actually had to shut down our other services, which have been around for more than 20 years here in Hawaiʻi," he said. "During that period when we all didn’t know when we were going to welcome people back to the state, I thought about different ideas to maybe diversify, and what came about was the technology to enter into this domain to offer this other option.”

Holoholo can be downloaded from the Apple and Google app stores. Morton said it’s had more than 10,000 downloads, and he’s still looking for drivers.

Officials say a Maui resident last month launched the only Hawaii-based, locally owned ride-share company in the state. Holoholo CEO Cecil Morton has been in the transportation business in Hawaii for 20 years as owner of SpeediShuttle.

Click the "Listen" button to hear more from Cecil Morton. This interview aired on The Conversation on July 29, 2021.

Russell Subiono is the executive producer of The Conversation and host of HPR's This Is Our Hawaiʻi podcast. Born in Honolulu and raised on Hawaiʻi Island, he’s spent the last decade working in local film, television and radio. Contact him at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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