- Honolulu could soon be the first city in the U.S. to cap surge pricing during increased demand for ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft.
- The Honolulu City Council approved a bill Wednesday by a 6-3 margin to limit the practice, where the fares typically rise during rush hour or bad weather, or when demand is higher like during a major event or sporting fixture.
- The Honolulu Star Advertiser notes the bill won't easily become a law. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell opposes the cap and could veto, with six votes needed to override. Uber has also come out strongly against the proposal.
Surge pricing can be frustrating for city dwellers trying to hail a ride home, and this bill looks to prevent surge pricing if the higher rates are more than a maximum fare set by the city. But the bill has come under fire from Honolulu’s own Department of Customer Service, which opposes the measure because customers already know what they will be charged, unlike when they take a regular metered taxi.
Uber has made a similar argument, with senior operations manager Tabatha Chow calling it a "solution in search of a problem" in a statement, and adding that "we’ve been told the City hasn't received a single consumer complaint about our dynamic pricing model." In an email to customers on the island of Oahu, which contains Honolulu, Uber urged its customers to raise their voices in opposition and accused the city council of trying to impose "outdated taxi-style requirements on rideshare."
Earlier this year, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi spoke of the company’s desire to be better partners with cities and be "part of our solution going forward." And while it has, for example, apologized for "certain missteps" in Portland, OR, part of its new strategy also appears to be calling on cities to be fair to its drivers and service. Washington, DC considered a ride-share tax that Khosrowshahi said must be "fair and equitable," and with this latest move in Honolulu, Uber perhaps feels it does not have any extra burdens placed on it.