At Uber, we use technology to help remove barriers to transportation and create opportunity for millions of people around the world.

Here in Hawaii, our technology has helped thousands of local drivers provide millions of affordable, convenient rides. And perhaps surprisingly, about 70 percent of those rides have been taken by Hawaii residents.

The Legislature is currently considering a bill — House Bill 1093 — that would put in place statewide ride-sharing regulations. A recent Civil Beat Community Voices article mischaracterized what the bill would do and how Uber’s business works (“Proposed Bill Regulating Uber, Lyft Is Biased Against Taxis,” April 16).

The statewide regulatory framework proposed in HB 1093 is based on regulations already in place in Honolulu — regulations that were instituted after more than a year of engagement between ride-share and taxi companies, the Honolulu City Council and city administrators. Claims that the proposed legislation would weaken consumer protections and disregard public safety are misleading and simply not true.

Safety is at the heart of everything we do, and that’s why we’re constantly working to enhance our technology. At the beginning of every Uber trip, riders can verify they’re getting into the right vehicle by matching the license plate, car make and model, and the driver photo provided in the app.

We recently began sending push notifications to riders to remind them of these steps just before their car arrives. Riders can also share their GPS-tracked ride in real time with friends and family and even split the fare with their fellow riders all via the app.

Uber Application in Hawaii
The Uber app. A House bill would put in place statewide ride-hailing regulations. Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

It’s also worth noting that Uber background checks screen a person’s motor vehicle record, in addition to checking county, state, and national criminal record databases. Two years ago, the Honolulu City Council updated city regulations to require this same process for Honolulu taxi companies as well.

Insurance for ride-share companies was settled in 2016 at the Legislature and remains unchanged under this bill. Before drivers are approved to drive, they must first verify proof of their personal auto insurance through the app. Then, from the moment they go online to drive, even when a passenger is not yet in the vehicle, Uber maintains the required commercial auto insurance for every trip on the Uber app.

And during a trip — from the moment a driver accepts a ride to dropping off the passenger — Uber maintains $1 million in third-party commercial auto liability coverage, even if the driver’s phone or app is turned off for any reason during the trip.

Critics of HB 1093 have also mischaracterized how pricing works with Uber. The most important thing to know is that before accepting a trip, riders typically know exactly what they’ll pay — a feature we call upfront pricing. And payments are handled through the app, meaning riders don’t have to wait for their card to be run, or worry about a driver insisting on cash.

Dynamic Pricing

Uber also relies on dynamic pricing, which encourages more drivers to use the app during times of high demand. This is why an Uber driver-partner is typically only minutes away, even if many people are looking for rides at the same time. Dynamic pricing is one of the reasons the cost of an Uber trip in Honolulu is generally less expensive than the cost of a similar taxi trip.

When Honolulu’s regulations were first passed, Uber was an Oahu-focused business. Over the past few years though, we’ve grown significantly and expanded our operations to reach many more people throughout Hawaii. Today we partner with thousands of drivers who serve riders on Oahu, Maui, the Big Island, and Kauai.

Passage of consistent, statewide regulatory requirements for ride-share would be a step forward for Hawaii.

We are committed to Hawaii. Through our six years of operating here we’ve partnered with Red Cross Hawaii to facilitate free rides to shelters following natural disasters, and we’ve supported MADD Hawaii to help combat drinking and driving.

We’ve also partnered with the Hawaii Food Bank, Access Surf, and the Hawaii LGBT Legacy Foundation among many other local nonprofit organizations doing important work. We are also of course proud to offer Hawaii residents and visitors another transportation option, and local drivers a flexible earning opportunity.

Passage of consistent, statewide regulatory requirements for ride-share would be a step forward for Hawaii. It would provide drivers more regulatory consistency and certainty across all the islands, which would in turn further improve the rider experience.

It would also standardize ride-share safety requirements for all of Hawaii. HB 1093 is sensible legislation that takes regulations already working in Honolulu and applies them to the rest of the state. We hope the bill will be considered on its merits.

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Column lengths should be no more than 800 words and we need a current photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to The opinions and information expressed in Community Voices are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.

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