New rules see the light over available taxis
I am a Hawaii resident but work in Japan, so I come back and forth several times a year. I have had several Japanese tourist-friends voice frustration lately over the fact that, especially at night, when a taxi has a fare, it still has its roof light on. Several of us were out in the rain late one night and were frustrated at the number of taxis that seemed to pass us by. Taxi drivers have told me that someone in the mayor's or governor's office decided it was a good idea to allow taxis to keep their lights on as a way of identifying taxis and to differentiate them from other cars. Why? My friends said this was ridiculous since there is no way to know if a taxi was free. I had to agree. In Japan when there is a passenger, not only does the light on top go off, there also is a change of designation, in red neon, in the window.
Answer: There was no recent change in the law allowing cabbies to keep their dome lights on all the time.
However, there WILL be a change in the city's taxicab rules to make sure it no longer will be an option for drivers to keep their dome lights on when they do have a passenger.
The rules now state, "The roof or dome light shall be illuminated at all times when lights are required and the cab is being operated. However, when a fare is occupying the cab or the cab is not available for hire, the roof or dome light may be turned off."
Dennis Kamimura, administrator of the city Motor Vehicle and Licensing Division, said he did not notice the word "may" was used in the Hawaii Administrative Rules, Title 9, Section 9-1-10, relating to taxicabs.
That word has been part of the rules "for a long time and was not changed by the mayor's office" or any other office, he said.
Kamimura said he would correct it to read "shall" the next time the rules are amended, but could not give a target date at this time.
Administrative rules are adopted in accordance with Chapter 91 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, Kamimura said. The procedure requires public notice, public hearing, approval by the mayor, then filings with the city clerk and lieutenant governor.
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