Technology Uber urges Hawaii customers, drivers to oppose ‘surge’ cap

Uber urges Hawaii customers, drivers to oppose ‘surge’ cap

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Uber urges Hawaii customers, drivers to oppose ‘surge’ cap

 Ride-hailing service Uber has sent emails to customers and drivers urging them to reach out to the Honolulu City Council and criticize a bill that would place more restrictions on the transportation network company and similar operations.

Language in the bill, which is up for final vote Wednesday, would require Honolulu Customer Services Director Sheri Kajiwara to establish a cap on how much ride-hailing drivers could charge during periods of “surge” or “dynamic” pricing, when ride demand is high, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported .

Uber and Lyft officials testified before council committees last month that the cap would be the first such restriction imposed on the transportation network companies in the U.S.

“The Honolulu City Council is considering new regulations that would impose outdated taxi-style requirements on ride share,” the email said. “These proposed regulations put the availability of reliable, affordable transportation on Oahu at risk.”

The companies contend surge pricing is necessary because it encourages drivers to get on the road when demand is highest. But taxi companies and cabbies say surge pricing creates an unfair advantage over them because their pricing is capped by state law.

Some opponents of ride-hailing companies also accuse them of charging exorbitant prices when customers most need rides.

City Council Chairman Ernie Martin, who wrote the latest draft of the bill, said its language does not prevent transportation network companies from charging more during surge-pricing periods.

“All it seeks to do is put a maximum ceiling as to how far they can charge with respect to that particular business practice,” he said.

The bill’s language is designed to guard against predatory pricing, Martin said.