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Ian Lind • Online daily from Kaaawa, Hawaii

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Airport taxi service criticized by local traveler

January 1st, 2013 · 8 Comments

A regular reader emailed this comment yesterday. I’m wondering whether this was a special situation or a more general problem. Chime in if you’ve had recent experience at HNL.

My concern is about taxi’s and HNL airport–certainly not a new topic. I flew in last night from San Francisco on United. We landed approximately 10:45pm.

So we have at least 150 to 250 travelers that have been on a long flight and all they want to do is get to their hotel room or other destination.

At HNL people were asked to walk a considerable distance (with their luggage), and stand in line for taxis. But you should have seen it. There were only two or three available taxis in the designated pick-up area. A couple or rows over though were taxi’s like the the Cab that were picking up people. I got in one and the driver explained that they are only picking up people that called.

Anyway, long story short is, why can’t HNL do a better job of organizing its taxi’s for travelers. When you need one at the airport they are never around.

Of course, political battles over the airport taxi contract seem to have been ongoing for decades, but I’m not so sure about the quality of service.

Share your experience, please.

Tags: Business · Consumer issues · Politics

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Wailau // Jan 1, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Honolulu’s is the only airport where I’ve ever had to wait for a cab. Since the purpose of government regulation should be to insure an ample supply, I’ve often wondered what is going wrong. Perhaps this is another example of how backward Hawaii has become compared to, in your recent example, states like Oregon.

  • 2 Jim Loomis // Jan 1, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    I usually travel to Los Angeles or Seattle and would agree that there are always plenty of taxis. That is NOT to say — depending on your time of arrival — that there won’t be a line of people waiting for one of those cabs.

  • 3 Hugh Clark // Jan 2, 2013 at 7:59 am

    The Bus beats all other ways of exiting Honolulu’s awkward airport. It is a prehistoric place based on my travels, which are nearly as frequent now as in my first 4o years.

    Ideally, travel was best in 1970s when I went straight from Hilo to Chicago and never saw Oahu. It is better now going via Alaska from Kona to Bay Area.

    Former Advertiser news executive Jim Kelly had it right that Honolulu Airport is an embarrassment to an economy reliant on tourism.

    Been to Singapore, Detroit, Prague or Amsterdam lately?

  • 4 Nancy // Jan 2, 2013 at 9:17 am

    But … but you can’t criticize how we do things! We have aloha!

  • 5 Carrie // Jan 2, 2013 at 10:02 am

    I was truely flabbergasted at the tremendous line of people waiting for taxis at our arrival at HNL on 12/27 at 10:30pm. We had bit the bullet and parked our car at the airport, and even though that was super pricy, it was worth it given what was going to be a very long wait for a cab. It’s ridiculous — we know when flights arrive, there should be no reason to wait for a cab (wait in line, yes, wait for a cab, no).

  • 6 Tim // Jan 2, 2013 at 10:33 am

    My wife and I landed in New Orleans in October 2012, right around midnight. How long did we wait for the airport to get a cab? Less than 3 minutes.

    But I’m with Nancy: No criticize Hawaii!!! We full of Aloha in Hawaii!
    (We definitely are full of it.)

  • 7 compare and decide // Jan 2, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Four more years until oil prices hit the fan.

    The post-peak oil crisis is commonly predicted to arrive in four years. Aviation fuel in particular will be severely constrained as there is no alternative to kerosene as a jet fuel.

    So starting in 2017, it may become increasingly easy to catch a cab at HNL.

    Speaking of HNL, Civil Beat has an editorial on whether HNL should be renamed after the late Senator Daniel Inouye.

    http://www.civilbeat.com/posts/2013/01/02/18013-off-the-beat-welcome-to-dan-inouye-honolulu-international-airport/

    The editorial argues that considering 1) the airport is a “dump” (their words) and 2) Inouye was single-mindedly focused on patronage, especially military spending, it might be more appropriate to name a nuclear submarine after him.

    There might be reason to disagree with this.

    Since 2006, $1.7 billion has been poured into rejuvenating HNL, apparently to no effect.

    Considering this, renaming the airport after Inouye might be all too apt. His legacy might be that of expending vast amount of money to no lasting, positive effect. There was no overall game plan to diversify Hawaii’s economy. To borrow a phrase from the 1993 crime film “Romeo Is Bleeding” with Gary Oldman and Lena Olin, Inouye’s preoccupation was to “feed the hole”.

    One thing that has not emerged into public discourse or perhaps anyone’s consciousness is the geographic and historical distribution pattern of federal patronage. Federal largess tends to move outward to the less developed periphery of the US. So during the New Deal, the South was a primary recipient of federal aid; accordingly, the South voted as a solid block for the Democratic Party (the so-called ‘solid South’). But with the emergence of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, and with the end of major federal infrastructure projects in the south (e.g., electrification in particular), the South began to end its allegiance to the Democratic Party. After that, federal largess turned toward the northwest, most notoriously to Seattle in particular under the leadership of Democratic Senators Warren Magnuson and Scoop Jackson; later it shifted to Alaska and Hawaii.

    But in the case of Seattle, there was a kind of a game plan for long term diversification. Hydroelectric dams made aluminum smelting possible, which made airplane construction and defense industries possible, which made quality higher education necessary, which made software development possible, etc.

    In contrast, one could argue that infrastructure projects in Hawaii — for example, the airport renovation — seem to exist for their own sake. (In the case of the airport, it’s as if nothing was really even built after almost two billion dollars were expended).

    So Hawaii had its day in the sun of federal funding, but federal largess was not treated as a temporary condition to be used to build a foundation for diversification. It was treated as a kind of Kargo Kult, with its own gods and rituals.

    Another thing that no one is facing is that never again will Hawaii have senior representation in the US Congress. Having a senior senator was a historical fluke that came to be popularly understood as natural order of things.

    It’s said that if someone gambles for the first time and wins $2,000, the feeling is so intense, overwhelming and unexpected that they will become addicted to gambling for life, forever chasing that old memory of the rush of a lifetime. That seems to be what’s going on now on debates on who should be representing Hawaii in Congress.

    Since the seniority system will henceforth hurt Hawaii, the discussion now should be on how Hawaii’s delegation can work to limit the seniority system (although Hawaii’s delegation would probably deny that never again will Hawaii have such power, since maintaining the illusion is in their own self-interest, a kind of carrot that they hold out to the voting public).

    But how to go about limiting the abuses of seniority in Congress?

    Establishing term limits in Congress to limit the corrupting effects of the seniority system is just adding one more set of regulations in order to cancel out the effect of an earlier regulation — like giving barbiturates to an amphetamine addict.

    It might be better to just scrap the whole seniority system. For instance, committee leadership in the Australian House and Senate are assigned by vote, not by seniority.

    Or, perhaps it might be better to have a hybrid system involving voting and seniority; or, have a system where committee chairmanship alternates every few years between two or three members of the committee who have the most seniority on that committee.

    Remember, when these rules were first established centuries ago, people did not live that long. The median life expectancy in 1800 was 25 years; in 1900 it was 50 years. Of course, much of this can be attributed to infant mortality rates. But it was not expected not so long ago that people would live so long, and be so reluctant to retire. (When Social Security was established during the New Deal, the life expectancy was 65 years, so it was assumed that only half the population would actually get Social Security benefits.)

    As Albert Einstein said, everything has changed except the way we think.

  • 8 Natalie // Jan 2, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    Unfortunately, suitcases are not allowed on TheBus, so that eliminates it as a mode of transportation for most travelers from the airport.

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