Report Title:

Taxi Companies; Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles

 

Description:

Empowers each county to regulate the acquisition by taxi companies of wheelchair accessible vehicles so that individuals with disabilities in each county may have access to wheelchair accessible taxis or other vehicles.

 

THE SENATE

S.B. NO.

867

TWENTY-FIRST LEGISLATURE, 2001

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 


 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

relating to public passenger vehicle regulation.

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

SECTION 1. The legislature finds that the United States Department of Transportation, in title 49 Code of Federal Regulations section 37.29, governing private entities providing taxi services, does not require taxi companies to buy or lease taxi "automobiles" that are accessible to wheelchairs. It does require that when a taxi company buys or leases a vehicle other than an automobile, such as a passenger van, the van is required to be wheelchair accessible. However, the regulations specifically provide that taxi companies are not required to buy passenger vans in order to have a number of wheelchair accessible vehicles in its fleet.

The Department of Transportation noted a comment from a disability group to the effect that a taxi company is not accessible when viewed in its entirety if it does not have access to accessible vehicles, and thus taxi companies should be made to acquire accessible vehicles. In explaining its decision, the Department of Transportation recognized that the availability of accessible taxi service is important to individuals with disabilities, and believed that as a matter of policy, greater accessibility of taxi fleets should be encouraged, that it believed that to impose such a requirement based only on a general concept of "accessible in its entirety" would be inappropriate.

However, it is clearly in the interest of the State that more wheelchair accessible vehicles are made available to individuals with disabilities in Hawaii. The purpose of this Act is to require that taxi companies implement a program to acquire wheelchair accessible vehicles.

SECTION 2. Section 46-16.5, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"46-16.5 Public passenger vehicle regulation. (a) The legislature finds and declares the following:

(1) The orderly regulation of vehicular traffic on the streets and highways of Hawaii is essential to the welfare of the State and its people;

(2) Privately-operated public passenger vehicle service provides vital transportation links within the State. Public passenger vehicle service operated in the counties enables the State to provide the benefits of privately-operated, demand-responsive transportation services to its people and to persons who travel to the State for business or tourist purposes;

(3) The economic viability and stability of privately-operated public passenger vehicle service is consequently a matter of statewide importance;

(4) The policy of the State is to promote safe and reliable privately-operated public passenger vehicle service to provide the benefits of that service. In furtherance of this policy, the legislature recognizes and affirms that the regulation of privately-operated public passenger vehicle service is an essential governmental function;

(5) The policy of the State is to require that counties regulate privately-operated public passenger vehicle service and not subject a county or its officers to liability under the federal antitrust laws;

(6) The policy of the State is to further promote privately-operated public passenger vehicle service, including but not limited to, the picking up and discharge of passengers from various unrelated locations by taxicabs; and

(7) The policy of the State is to further promote privately-operated public passenger vehicle service by requiring jitney services not regulated by the counties to be under the jurisdiction of the public utilities commission. For the purposes of this paragraph, "jitney services" means public transportation services utilizing motor vehicles that have seating accommodations for six to twenty-five passengers, operate along specific routes during defined service hours, and levy a flat fare schedule.

(b) Any other law to the contrary notwithstanding, where not within the jurisdiction of the public utilities commission, every county may provide rules to protect the public health, safety, and welfare by licensing, controlling, and regulating, by ordinance or resolution, public passenger vehicle service operated within the jurisdiction of the county; provided that the counties shall promote the policies set forth in subsection (a).

(c) Every county is empowered to regulate:

(1) Entry into the business of providing public passenger vehicle service within the jurisdiction of that county.

(2) The rates charged for the provision of public passenger vehicle service.

(3) The establishment of stands to be employed by one or a limited number of providers of public passenger vehicle service.

(d) Notwithstanding subsection (a)(5), (b), and (c), every county shall regulate the acquisition by privately-operated public passenger vehicle companies of wheelchair accessible vehicles so that individuals with disabilities in each county may have access to wheelchair accessible public passenger vehicles."

SECTION 3. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

INTRODUCED BY:

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