When I was a law student at New York University, I drove a cab in Manhattan. Things were different back then — we didn’t have Google Maps and fares paid in cash not credit cards. The technology developed by transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft (let’s call them TNCs) has dramatically changed the ride service industry. I think most riders and drivers would agree that changes like this are great, and the way to our future.

Uber’s technology enables you to: a) find drivers at the touch of a app on your phone; b) know the fare before accepting the ride; c) choose from a range of vehicle sizes and ride options; d) be notified when your driver is arriving to pick you up; e) pay the fare and tip automatically when you reach your destination; and f) get an immediate email confirming the ride and payment.

The whole experience is impressively easy and efficient. On top of all that, it’s significantly cheaper, usually 40 percent cheaper than a conventional taxi.

This technology is making transportation instantly available for everyone, democratizing the ride service industry, providing lots of jobs for local drivers and serving as a welcome addition to the modern multi-modal transportation choices we have longed for. That’s why it has become so popular among so many people so quickly.

It was standing-room-only when the Honolulu City Council took testimony in 2016. The council is again considering legislation impacting ride-sharing businesses.

Courtney Teague/Civil Beat

This technology is a win-win for our city. In the five years since Uber entered the local market, its technology and benefits have become standard in the ride service industry. What Uber offers is so attractive that many people have come to rely on these benefits, so much so that they won’t take a taxi anymore. The only ones who don’t like the TNC model are a handful of conventional taxi companies who don’t want to innovate their systems or pricing to keep up.

That’s why it’s disheartening to see our Honolulu City Council ignore the benefits of this technology and take up a bill that would reinstate previously eliminated taxi regulations that would serve only to penalize the TNCs.

Bill 35 in the City Council is the latest step in a campaign by some conventional taxi companies to make it impossible for the TNCs to do business here, and to effectively drive them out of the market. Is that what you want?

Chief among the regulations being proposed in the bill is a limit on dynamic (“surge”) pricing, where Uber charges are temporarily increased during times of peak demand.

Suppose it’s 2 a.m. and the bars are closing. Lots of patrons get on their phones to get a ride home, but there are only so many drivers available at that time. The Uber fare is calculated to increase depending on the number of user requests as against the number of drivers on the road. This temporary increase in the fare is an incentive for more drivers to work and be available at that hour.

When driver demand is met, the fare prices are reduced again.

This technology is a win-win for our city.

Dynamic pricing is no more than supply and demand, a market effect deeply rooted in our history and economy: in the real estate market, seasonal food costs, and the prices of items that become scarce for one reason or another. In Uber’ s case, dynamic pricing offers the public better service and lower wait times, even at 2 a.m. If users feel the price quoted on the app is too high, they can use other transportation. There’s nothing unfair about this.

Rather than accept this new tech model as an innovative solution to our transportation problems, the sponsors of Bill 35 want fixed, higher prices for all private transportation companies, thus forcing the TNCs to raise their prices. If Bill 35 is adopted, competition and rider choice will be dramatically reduced. We will all be the victims, and we will all pay more for rides. Is this what the City Council wants? Is this what the public wants?

Another provision in this highly political bill would require TNC drivers to become “certified” by the city, including a medical certification. The TNCs already require their drivers to pass extensive background and criminal checks. They don’t require medical exams beyond the requirements we must all satisfy to have a driver’s license. TNC drivers are not conventional taxi drivers; they use their own vehicles. Why force them to comply with regulations that don’t apply to them? Is this necessary, or is it just a plan to impose bureaucratic obstacles to wipe out the competition?

Let’s accept and encourage popular new technology. Let’s not allow a few members of the conventional taxi industry using hometown politics to drive out a new industry that benefits our community and helps people get around more efficiently and at lower rates. To their credit, some conventional taxi companies have started developing their own technologies to adapt to customer needs. That’s a far better strategy than using old school political connections to thoughtlessly deprive the public of better transportation and a better city.

Bill 35 is coming up in the Council again Wednesday. Let’s look carefully at what they do.

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