Our Community Deserves Transparency

Over the past few months, our East Honolulu City Councilmember supported Bill 35, a measure that would have restricted and regulated transportation network companies, or rideshare companies, to the point of their inability to operate in the Hawai'i market. That's why I was just as surprised as the many people who called me over the weekend asking why he would send a mailer implying his support for ridesharing companies.

In actuality, my opponent accepted direct campaign contributions from the owners from multiple traditional Taxi companies and then immediately voted to restrict Uber and Lyft drivers and cap their surge pricing. This pay-to-play politics destroys the level playing field and demonstrates no support for our resident drivers and riders.

I believe our community deserves a Councilmember that will be honest and transparent. I will always provide effective Leadership with Aloha. Please feel free to read excerpts of my testimony below.

Tommy's 05/23/2018 testimony:
"Having lived in East Oahu for most of my life, I’ve sat through my share of traffic. Hawaii residents endure some of the worst traffic conditions in the nation, with many of us spending an hour or more getting to and from work every day. There’s no question we need to do more to provide our residents with better, more reliable and more affordable transportation options.

Regulating transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft won’t solve our transportation crisis — it’ll create a larger problem. TNCs provide a valuable service to our community, and placing regulations on their operations will only make it harder for them to Written serve our residents.

Regulating transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft won’t solve our transportation crisis — it’ll create a larger problem. TNCs provide a valuable service to our community, and placing regulations on their operations will only make it harder for them to serve our residents.

Our kupuna rely on TNCs to get to their doctor’s appointments or run errands. Local people use TNCs to get to work, reducing the number of cars on the road, or to get home after a night out, reducing DUI rates. TNC fares are on average 40 percent cheaper than a regular taxi. This price difference matters a lot to those who struggle with high cost of living expenses, especially seniors who live on limited incomes.

TNCs have introduced much-needed competition in our market. Taxis have had to adapt their services to become more consumer friendly to survive, which has resulted in kamaaina fares, mobile apps and other features that benefit local people. Finally, TNCs create job opportunities that help our residents earn a living. Becoming an Uber or Lyft driver offers a part-time, flexible way to supplement or serve as a main source of income.

Despite these benefits, the City Council is considering a bill that will effectively make it impossible for TNCs to operate here in Hawaii. We are known as one of the worst states to do business due to over regulation, needless bureaucracy and an unwillingness to embrace innovation. All this is clearly at play in the consideration of Bill 35.

Bill 35 will create a number of regulations for TNCs, none of which will benefit the local consumer. It will result in higher fares with no real increase in passenger safety for more than tOO,000 Uber riders. It will remove incentives for 3,000 Uber drivers to work during peak hours, resulting in longer wait times and lower wages. Is this really what the people want? Does Bill 35 really have the community’s best interests in mind?

I urge the City Council to consider how important TNCs are to our state, our residents and our transportation industry and vote no on Bill 35. Instead of regulating TNCs, we should spend our time and efforts creating more ways for people to get around safely, easing traffic and improving transportation for everyone."