Mayor Kirk Caldwell today vetoed a controversial bill that would make Honolulu the first city in the United States to cap how much Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing drivers can charge during peak periods.
Instead, he said at a press conference, he wants to introduce legislation that would loosen rules that govern traditional taxi companies so that passengers can choose either a per-mile fare system as now used by cab companies, or a pricing system that discloses up front how much will be paid.
The focus now switches back to the City Council, which voted 6-3 on June 6 to approve Bill 35.
Six votes are needed to override a veto and make the bill become law, so Caldwell will need at least one of the six to change direction and go against it for the veto to stand.
Of the six who voted “yes,” members Ikaika Anderson and Trevor Ozawa said they were doing so with reservations. The others who supported the bill were Carol Fukunaga, Ann Kobayashi, Ernie Martin and Kymberly Pine. The three “no” votes came from Brandon Elefante, Joey Manahan and Ron Menor.
Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing companies opposed the bill as too arduous while taxi companies say it’s needed to ensure a level playing field among all private transportation operators.
Council members also point to horror stories about exorbitant rates being charged to military members during peak hours, which has been allowed and been a key part of the ride-hailing companies’ business model.
Uber and Lyft officials said their prices are cheaper than traditional taxis, even during surge-pricing times, a prospective passenger should know how much the ride will cost, and decide whether to accept it. Uber has attempted to rally its thousands of riders to lobby elected officials at Honolulu Hale to reject the bill.
Customer Services Director Sheri Kajiwara and Deputy Director Randy Leong have testified that the administration opposes any restrictions on surge- pricing, arguing that the free market should determine how much passengers should be charged.