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Honolulu taxi industry wants more control over meter rates

Courtesy Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority
Charley's Taxi Service

These are difficult days for the taxi business — both companies and drivers. Despite a rise in demand after the pandemic, challenges range from escalating gas prices to tightly regulated meter rates.

The use of surge pricing by competitors like Uber and Lyft is an added frustration.

Dale Evans, CEO of Charley's Taxi, has asked the City and County of Honolulu to repeal the ordinance that controls taxi fares — which she says is threatening her business.

"This is totally ridiculous that the drivers have to wait nine years for a fare increase," she told The Conversation. "The price controls are archaic."

Taxi rates have not changed since 2013. In that time, the number of drivers has dropped from more than 1,000 to just a couple of hundred.

Evans says about 60% of taxi drivers have left the business and more than 50% of taxi companies have gone out of business.

"The industry is in crisis," she said. "We cannot be running our business when airlines and hotels and transportation network companies (rideshares) are able to run their businesses without government interference," Evans added.

The Blangiardi administration’s Department of Customer Services says a bill to raise taxi meter rates will be introduced soon, and public hearings will be set for later this fall.

The current rate is $6.65 for the first mile and $3.60 for each additional mile. The city is considering a hike to $8.30 for the first mile and $4.48 thereafter.

Taxi drivers are also charged a state fee to drop off passengers at parks like Diamond Head or at the airport. Evans is calling for an overhaul of the system.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Sept. 7, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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