• Tuesday, September 18, 2018
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City vows to protect inspectors from harassment after ride-hailing driver’s ‘rowdy’ video

  • COURTESY FACEBOOK

    Lynda Kernaghan

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An Uber and Lyft driver’s treatment of city inspectors of ride-hailing cars has prompted the city’s director of Customer Service to send an email asserting that harassment by drivers won’t be tolerated.

The city Department of Motor Vehicle Control was inspecting ride-hailing cars last week. Lynda Kernaghan, a driver for Uber and Lyft, posted a 33-minute video to her Facebook page on Friday of inspections by the city inspectors. So far, Kernaghan’s video has received about 2,000 views as of Monday afternoon.

At the start of the video, a city inspector can be seen telling drivers, “We’re here today for the first time … we are here to educate you. If you don’t have whatever is required, you will be cited.”

The man tells drivers that citations can go up to $1,000, but “abide by the law and you guys will be all good.”

The city inspection was an outgrowth of city ordinance that took effect last year, which set new requirements designed to bring greater parity to regulations governing ride-hailing drivers and taxicabs. It took place at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport the same day a six-month extension of a pilot program between the state and Uber and Lyft began. The pilot program, which originally started December, allows Uber and Lyft drivers to make airport pickups.

On the video, Kernaghan asks the city employee for his title and demands, “What are you asking for?”

The inspector replies, “I’m asking for compliance for the drivers to abide to what was agreed by Uber and Lyft.”

She complains several times that the city has not informed drivers about the law.

The video shows that several of the drivers could not produce required certificates. Inspectors tell others that their cars are not properly marked. All say Uber and Lyft did not tell them about the requirements.

During the video, Kernaghan heckles an inspector and calls him a “bully.” At one point, she insists inspectors take her car out of turn.

“Oh, that’s going to be fun, gonna be my turn,” Kernaghan said. “I want them to give me a f***ing citation. Let’s see how this b**ch rolls. All of the sudden the lot became f***ing famous. The day the pilot program is done is wen they want to hit us up.”

Kernaghan, who has been driving for Uber and Lyft for about a year, said Monday that the video shows the depth of her anger, at that moment, toward city inspectors. She also contends that the city inspectors were harassing drivers.

“I was rowdy. I was just standing up for myself, they were making up the rules as they went along,” she said. “It was straight harassment. That’s why I posted the video. I wanted everyone to see it.”

Kernaghan said city inspectors inspected six cars and cited one Uber driver, who sought assistance from Uber afterward.

“They didn’t end up inspecting my vehicle. Once I turned the camera on, they stopped inspections completely,” she said. “There’s a breakdown in communications between the city and Uber and Lyft.”

Kernaghan said she has given Uber a copy of the video and said the company clarified that drivers don’t need physical paperwork because the online profiles in the Uber app count as city certification.

“They didn’t deactivate me. I’m still driving,” she said.

Reactions to the video on Kernaghan’s Facebook video were mixed, with some ride-hailing drivers claiming that the inspections constituted harassment by city officials. One driver said the city inspection standards contradicted what the ride-hailing companies have disclosed to their drivers.

Once local taxi company officials saw the video, they complained to the city. Ecocab Hawaii General Manager David Jung emailed a copy of the video to Sherilyn Kajiwara, director of the city Department of Customer Services Department, and other transportation officials Saturday.

“Hundreds upon hundreds if not thousands of taxi drivers have been cited by city taxi inspectors in the history of taxis. Yet, I have never heard of such an incident as what unfolds in this video ever occurring with a taxi driver,” Jung said.

Kajiwara assured Jung and others in the email chain that she was working to address the incident.

“Civil servants should not be harassed like this in the course of doing their job. The (Customer Service Department) will continue to work to enforce current ordinance to the best of our ability,” Kajiwara said.

Uber and Lyft officials could not be reached for immediate comment.

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