Uber Vs. Taxis

Require fingerprints for drivers

I’d like to respond to your recent editorial headlined, “Leave The Uber-Taxi Debate To The Consumer” (July 24). The Associated Press article I cite is here.

Here are my 197 words:

The debate, reduced to its most basic elements, is about basic consumer protections, not about saving a few bucks. You make a casual mention of “isolated incidents of driver abuse” as if it’s just part of doing business with Uber or Lyft. You know, a few broken eggs.

With the repeal of fingerprinting in 2016 for TNCs ( transportation network companies) and taxis, Honolulu consumers have lost the most basic assurance that their driver is who he or she claims to be. My daughter is too young, but I would counsel her never to ride Uber or Lyft.

Would you so casually dismiss a serial rapist as an “isolated incident of driver abuse” if it happened here? Consider these statements from a recent AP article:

Vilchez Lazo “fraudulently represented himself” when he applied for a job and and passed the company’s background check, Margolis (Lyft) said.

Searches can take as little as 24 hours, and none would flag a worker in the country illegally using bogus documents.

The commission, however, resisted calls to require the fingerprinting of drivers. Even when faced with clear evidence that name-only checks are woefully inadequate, authorities still resist fingerprinting. Why?

Fingerprint background checks must be reinstated.

Thanks for reading. 

— Tom Nauwelaerts, Honolulu

An ad for Uber

The Civil Beat editorial “Leave the Uber-Taxi Debate to the Consumer” represents extremely poor journalism. It misrepresented facts and was riddled with inaccuracies. It also attacked our company, Charley’s Taxi,  unfairly.

For example, pricing: Let’s take for example UberX that might offer rides from Waikiki to HNL for about $25. UberX are small sedans, compact vehicles. Charley’s Taxi offers a flat rate to the airport for $29 from Waikiki. All of our current fleet are full-sized — larger cars, minivans or larger SUVs. Civil Beat’s comparison is like comparing Apples and Oranges or UberX to UberXL or UberSelect. Sure you can chose the cheaper alternative, for a smaller UberX, but if you chose Charley’s, you get a driver who has had a fingerprint background check and a car that has commercial insurance. Something that neither Uber and Lyft offer in any class of their vehicles.

Also, Uber and Lyft … in every one of their classes of cars, unlike Charley’s Taxi, might surge astronomically. Charley’s Taxi will only revert their $29 flat fare back to meter during extra busy holidays such as New Year’s Eve and when there is extra-heavy traffic as noted on our website or on our coupons.

The argument CB puts forth regarding elderly and handicapped is completely off the mark! We aren’t talking about services that serve the elderly and handicapped. We are saying that Uber and Lyft aren’t able to service the elderly and handicapped and the poor in many cases like taxis that take cash and have full service phone-dispatch centers, because many elderly don’t use apps on cell phone or computers and many poor cannot pay with credit cards.

Your “editorial,” which ironically failed to mention Lyft at all, seemed to be a paid advertisement for Uber.

— Darci Evans, Charley’s Taxi

Seniors and disabled are ill served

For a news source that prides itself on insightful reporting, your editorial, “Leave The Uber-Taxi Discussion To The Consumer,” was a disappointment.

You state, “Another argument against Bills 43 and 44 is that senior citizens and the disabled can’t use ride-hailing services.” You brush that argument aside, writing: Uber provides uberAssist, which “offers additional assistance to members of the senior and physically disabled community.” 

Yes, that’s word-for-word what it says on the Uber website.

Do you know how many wheelchair-accessible vehicles Uber has in Honolulu? No, you don’t. Neither does the city. Uber probably doesn’t even know.

Research by the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest made dozens of requests for WAV on Lyft and Uber in New York City last May.

Lyft located a WAV for only three of 65 attempts, rendering the service non-functional for wheelchair users. Uber located a WAV in only 27 of 49 attempts. Not a single WAV could be located at NYC’s two major airports.

New York City’s Taxi Commission mandated that within a year, five percent of all trips dispatched by Uber and Lyft be in wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

Uber is suing to block the implementation of the WAV mandate.

Eric Epling, Honolulu

Running For OHA

The electorate is regrettably uninformed

Regarding Peter Apo’s piece on why we should vote for OHA trustees (July 23), Mr. Apo missed an important third reason why the electorate fails to vote for OHA trustees. It’s nearly impossible to find any information on the candidates.

Let’s face it, OHA has been a disaster, trustees have been caught misusing their expense accounts, and expense accounts in cash have been provided to the trustees in advance, rather than using a reimbursement model with checks and balances.

Some contracts have been awarded improperly and there’s been tremendous infighting within OHA.

So how are we, the electorate, supposed to vote for the OHA trustees?

If I had any inkling of knowledge about which of the candidates are honest and running in order to help the agency and help the people the agency is supposed to serve and not help themselves I’d certainly vote, but the electorate is totally uninformed.

It’s not that I haven’t asked or tried to do some research on the topic. There is very little information out there on the track record of the current trustees and those seeking to replace them.

— David Kahn, Makawao

Trevor Ozawa

What he did and did not do

Trevor Ozawa is the council member from District IV and is running for re-election (“The Struggle For Power In Honolulu Is Coming To A Head,” July 2).

Trevor Ozawa announced budget cuts to the Honolulu Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resilience. After public outcry, he voted to restore funds that the office needs.

Trevor Ozawa announced cuts in funding of bike lanes. After public outcry, he voted to restore the funds.

Trevor Ozawa tried to stop the permanent protection of Kanewai Springs in Kuliouou. He now claims credit on his website for securing the purchase.

Before he was elected into office Trevor Ozawa did not lift a finger to protect Sandy Beach, Ka Iwi or Ka Iwi mauka. Now, he claims he secured the money to preserve Ka Iwi mauka.

Ozawa’s true colors do not offer much hope.

Randy Ching, Kaneohe

Write a letter to Civil Beat. Send to news@civilbeat.org and put Letter in the subject line. 200 words max. You need to use your name and city and include a contact phone for verification purposes. The opinions and information expressed in letters are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.