Uber brings service to Kauai

LIHUE — Uber is here.

The global riding sharing service will launch its first trip on the Garden Island today.

“We’ve been on Oahu and Maui for a couple years, and we’ve always had our eyes set on Kauai,” said Taylor Patterson, spokeswoman for Uber. “But we wanted to make sure business was good there, before coming to the island.”

The company doesn’t want to take the place of other services, like The Kauai Bus or taxi companies. Rather, it wants to provide another transportation option, Patterson said.

“Coming to this market, the transportation ecosystem is a large one, and Uber will be a part of it,” she said.

By bringing Uber, which is at 555 sites around the world, to Kauai, Patterson hopes it will make getting around the island more accessible for people who live in remote areas or who can’t drive.

“We want to make transportation as reliable as running water,” she said.

Celia Mahioka, transportation executive for the county, said the company will be an asset to Kauai.

“If implemented well, I think that Uber could provide the community with more affordable transportation options that are not currently offered on Kauai, especially for less-populated, remote areas of the island,” she said. “Of course, all county and state laws will have to be followed as well.”

Those laws include having vehicle registration and valid insurance, which Uber requires its drivers to have, Patterson said.

If operating out of the airports, Uber drivers are required to have a pre-arranged ground transportation permit, said Timothy Sakahara, spokesman for the Hawaii Department of Transportation.

Permit requirements include a $100 annual administrative fee and an annual $20 fee for each off-airport rent-a-car vehicle, according to Hawaii Administrative Rules.

Uber drivers must pass a background check and their vehicle must pass an inspection, Patterson said.

The background check includes the person’s driving record for the past seven years, she added.

Several people have already expressed interest in being a driver, Patterson said.

“People have been telling us they’ve been waiting for it,” she said. “Since the driver is an independent contractor, the hours are what they make of it. It’s great for people who are in between jobs or need to supplement their income.”

Uber drivers get 75 percent of the proceeds from every ride and are paid weekly, Patterson said.

The base fair for an Uber ride on Kauai will be $2. The cost per mile is $1.50.

“Riders see their quoted price when they enter the pickup and dropoff points in the app so they will know exactly how much they will pay before the trip even starts,” Patterson said.

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