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Monday, April 12, 2021
SB251 Favors Uber/Lyft at Expense of Local Companies
By News Release @ 12:03 PM :: 1766 Views :: Small Business

Hawaii transportation leaders say Senate Bill 251 (HB 264) hurts consumers, favors Uber and Lyft at the expense of local companies

News Release from Roberts Hawaii and Charley’s Taxi

HONOLULU — March 31, 2021 — Leaders of Hawaii’s commercial transportation industry say Senate Bill 251(HB 264), now being considered by the legislature to create statewide regulatory policies for transportation network companies (TNC), will compromise public safety, allow consumer price-gouging, and give an unfair competitive advantage to companies such as Uber and Lyft.

“For the past few years, the TNC’s have introduced bills to establish an independent class of commercial vehicle service that falls outside of the current regulations that cover Public Utility Commission (PUC) vehicles and county taxis,” said Roy Pfund, CEO of Robert’s Hawaii, Inc. “The true intent of this effort is to create a façade of regulation that will allow the TNC’s to bypass all the current rules, regulations and taxes that Hawaii based operators must comply with.”

In testimony submitted to the Senate Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce on March 23, Pfund and other industry leaders said that Uber and Lyft want to monopolize taxi and ride sharing transportation as well as Hawaii’s food and package delivery market by promoting legislation that discriminates against locally based, regulated transportation companies and their workforces.

Opponents of Senate Bill 251 say it differs from current regulations and favors TNCs because it:

· Lacks enforcement power and has no provisions for penalties for rule violations.

· Does not require TNC drivers to provide medical clearances or carry General Excise Tax licenses.

· Does not require TNC drivers to maintain full insurance coverage comparable to taxis and PUC operators.

· Does not require TNC vehicles to display exterior markings that would identify them for enforcement purposes and consumer safety. 

· Allows predatory pricing, including surge pricing, that is not based on fixed mileage and time rates, or the shortest, most economical route.

“It is unreasonable that the TNCs would be exempt from all of these rules and regulations,” said Deems Narimatsu, executive director of Hawaii Passenger and Property Carrier Association. “Allowing them to operate as an independent class of commercial vehicle service that falls outside of the current regulations gives them an unfair advantage and results in destructive competitive practices.”

“Given Hawaii’s current economy, we should be supporting local transportation companies and jobs rather than finding ways for multibillion dollar companies like Uber and Lyft to do an end run around the rules that apply to the rest of us,” Narimatsu said.

“Senate Bill 251 disregards Hawaii Revised Statute §271-1, which clearly establishes policies for impartial regulation without unjust discrimination, undue preference or advantage, or unfair or destructive competitive practices,” said Gareth Sakakida, COO of the Hawaii Transportation Association. “SB 251 goes against all that by proposing a regulatory structure for a single type of operation that places everyone else at a disadvantage.”

Dale Evans, president and CEO of Charley’s Taxi and Limousine, says the state could look for guidance from a regulatory model recently enacted for TNC operations at San Francisco International Airport.

There the airport authority and California PUC created a TNC classification and issues permits to authorized TNCs. TNC vehicles must display dashboard placards at all times, including at staging lots. An electronic waybill must be presented upon request. Real-time vehicle activity must be visible to enforcement officers via an Airport mobile app. San Francisco also requires commercial liability insurance on each TNC vehicle consistent with California PUC requirements.

“Uber and Lyft perform the same services as everybody else,” Evans said. “But the state has allowed them to operate in violation of Hawaii’s Motor Carrier Law for the past seven years. All we’ve asked for — all we continue to ask for — is that we all be allowed to compete on a level playing field.”

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