Taxi drivers’ urgent needs are neglected on account of rail
Every other transportation mode, every other ground transportation business is allowed to pass on the cost of fuel increases in the form of fuel surcharges. High fuel costs limit profitability for all sorts of industries. It is high time that the Honolulu City Council allows taxi drivers to charge a flat per-trip fuel surcharge to be added to the meter rate.
Further, Honolulu's taxicab ordinance is antiquated and needs to be reformed to keep up with modern-day costs, taxes and fees.
We have called for the need to pass on other surcharges that are forced upon taxi drivers simply because the ordinance specifies limited types of charges, i.e., meter and baggage. Honolulu's taxi drivers are still waiting, as we have requested independent pricing authority to the Council for decades.
We also called attention to the loopholes in the taxicab ordinance as to taxicab driver qualifications that harm the taxi industry's reputation and image. Taxi drivers with bad criminal histories are being issued and renewed taxi driver certificates simply because of a limited review of prior two-year history, and because the nature of the criminal violations have not been updated to include various violence, sexual and theft convictions.
The Council is responsible for the health and welfare of the taxicab operators and their passengers. We submit that the taxi industry should not be regulated except for safety issues. But if the city insists on continuing to micromanage our business, the Council and administration must pay attention or deregulate so we can get on with our business.
The rail project is needlessly distracting the Council and the administration's attention from dealing with today's urgent taxi industry problems.
Moreover, we wonder whether there is some devious intent to let the taxi industry suffer, just because certain Councilmen resent our exercising our constitutional right to freedom of expression.
The chairman of the transportation committee is responsible to lead his fellow Council members to do the right thing for small business transportation entrepreneurs. These financial hardships force drivers to work six- or seven-day weeks, long hours -- posing a safety hazard as they get tired and stressed. The airlines, trucking and shipping industries all are staggering under the burden of higher fuel costs. When will the City Council and administration fix this problem so that hard-working taxi drivers don't go under?
Dale Evans is chairwoman and president of Charley's Taxi & Limousine.