As 2020 begins, the four Mayors of Hawaii are already looking to make some changes regarding transportation in the state in order to control traffic on the islands. While the initiatives mainly focus on rideshare apps and e-scooters, they are also pushing for a new added fee to drivers’ annual registration. Let’s take a look at what the mayors are asking of state lawmakers.
Though controversial, the mayors want to start charging congestion pricing in rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft, which is charging a fee to drivers in heavily populated areas at peak travel times because there will be more traffic, and in turn raising prices for riders during this time as well. It’s controversial because consumers feel bullied into paying overpriced fares for necessary travel, and drivers feel the same about paying to access certain parts of cities at the height of possible customers.
But it has proven to help high traffic areas. When this was implemented in London, car traffic fell nearly 40% whereas public transit use increased. This helps reduce congestion, which in turn would ideally cause rideshare prices to lower because peak travel times are not as crowded as before.
If this takes place in cities on the island, though, there will need to be more options for public transit so that commuters have other options for travel.
On top of congestion pricing, the mayors want a bill that allows counties to charge a per-ride fee to the rideshare companies in exchange for using state and county resources, like the roads and infrastructure. Other cities charge between 67 cents per ride and even as much as almost three dollars.
Other than rideshares, lawmakers were also asked to regulate e-scooters in the state vehicle code. While Lime scooters appeared for a week in Honolulu, they were taken away because state vehicular code needed to include regulation of the scooters since they are motorized vehicles.
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell claims they “don’t want to prohibit them” but just “want to regulate them.”
Caldwell also proposed to add a $25 fee to drivers’ annual registration to cover the removal of abandoned vehicles as a state fee. Hawaii Island Senator Lorraine Inouye rejected this request, stating that it’s a county-level matter, not state. Although counties are able to charge a $10 fee for this, they are not able to charge as much as $25.
There have yet to be final decisions or implemented laws about any of these requests.