How Charley’s Taxi in Honolulu made Uber speechless
Charley’s Taxi made Uber utterly speechless, and this is how. First of all, not all taxi companies are created equal. This becomes very clear when looking at the transportation industry on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.
With almost 80% of ride shares falling under the likes of Uber and Lyft, and just a little more than 20% falling under taxis, the perception is that Uber and Lyft are always more economical and more efficient. Dale Evans, CEO of Charley’s Taxi and Limousine on Oahu, however, is fighting back. She has a lot more to show than empty words, and even her words alone left Uber speechless.
Award-winning Charley’s Taxi has been in business for 80 years since 1938. It is managed under the watchful eye of CEO Dale Evans, who recently shared some of her pride for her 70-year-old company that she feels for the operation of Charley’s with eTN publisher Juergen Steinmetz.
Many travel professionals have heard about simulators for pilots to fly aircraft and train in any possible situation to learn how to fly an aircraft safely.
Not many travel professionals have heard about a simulator to learn driving a taxi. Look at Charley’s, and you will find one.
Charley’s Taxi in Honolulu has invested heavily in training and is the first taxi company to offer Aloha State Driving Simulators. Such training is in addition to every potential driver having to go through an extensive FBI background check as well as produce a Hawaii licensed doctor’s certificate in order to prove his/her worthiness to drive one of the shiny, and most of the time brand new and commercially insured, 200+ vehicles that Charley’s has on the roadways of Waikiki and Oahu. Dale added:” All of our drivers are Fingerprinted with an FBI background check. Uber opposes fingerprints and checks any (alias) names only.
In addition to the simulator, drivers must complete mandatory education which covers CPR, first aid, sexual harassment, community policing, body mechanics, assisting people with special needs, and multi-cultural protocols.
Dale told eTN: “Safety is our trademark. From requiring commercial insurance for our vehicles at any time (different from Uber), we have a ‘one strike and you’re out’ to drivers that violate serious safety regulations. Our drivers wear a uniform and are professionals. All drivers are checked for INS legal immigration and work authorizations. And a new flat rate system will take the stress away on what it will cost to get into a shiny Charley’s Taxi in Honolulu.
“Our state-of-the-art logistics system makes this all possible. There are no more long lines for drivers to cue up, meaning taxis are available to anyone when they need one.
“Operators are available to speak fluent Japanese, English, and even Russian to serve the booming and constantly-expanding visitor industry. We cater to locals to have a seamless experience when going from place A to B, and we still offer Kamaaina rates.
“Charley’s is high tech. Anyone calling for a taxi with a smartphone gets a text message with a link allowing a passenger to be updated with each phase of the trip and an option to rate the driver at the end of the journey.
“When we are in need of larger vehicles, we work with Royal Star, Polynesian Hospitality, Hawaii Bluesky limousines, and others to provide motor coaches, 14-passenger vans, Sprinters, and limousines. We work on a supply-and-demand system, and we are good at eliminating wait times making it efficient for both passengers and our drivers.”
Dale showed eTN the state-of-the-alert emergency alert system that includes secret codes, secret languages, secret cameras, secret audio, and a direct line to the Honolulu Police Department. Without disclosing all of the details in order to protect the security measures, Dale said, “Our taxis are safe, and we keep our drivers and passengers safe. Our drivers have family at home and are like family to us. They love their job, and they are good in it. We owe this extra assurance to them.”
Corporate contracts with Disney, Hilton, Japan Airlines, Marriott Vacations Club in Ko Olina, Waikele Outlet Stores, and many other companies are making communication and interaction with the visitor industry seamless. JTB clients can flag down Charley’s Taxi anywhere in Waikiki, and the cost is covered by a flat rate, which is disclosed in a Japanese tourist travel package.
Dale told eTN how her company is paying attention to details. She said that the first minute after a visitor arrives is the most important moment of their vacation as it sets the tone for their holiday. Charley’s offers gate pickup at Honolulu airport and delivers fresh flower lei greetings so expected upon arrival to Hawaii, as Hawaiian music is played in the taxi when riding from and to the airport.
Charley’s is more than taking passengers from point A to point B. The company works with hospitals, homes for the elderly, and health insurance organizations, and drivers transport blood, help needy passengers to get to the correct doctor’s office, and make sure elderly passengers get into their homes safely.
Dale continued to explain: “We use the most advanced Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technology for efficient automated live-interactive reservation and dispatch, in-car GPS, and credit card processing. We can provide fail-safe service in the event of a disaster with multi-redundant power supplies designed to last three days without interruption.
“We use FlightView as a live interactive airline flight tracking system, and our MTData system is the world’s most advanced system for Internet reservations and rate queries, dispatch, and accounting.”
When eTN asked about how much this all costs, and how Charley’s compares with Uber rates, she shared this information:
- Airport to or from Waikiki: $29 (typical meter: $35-38)
- Airport to or from Aulani: $55 (typical meter: $65-75)
- Airport to or from UH Manoa: $29 (typical meter: $35)
- Airport to or from Kakaako: $25 (typical meter: $30)
- Airport to or from Downtown: $20 (typical meter: $25)
eTN checked these rates on the Uber app, and 70% of the time Charley’s rates were better. When reaching out to Uber for some feedback, there was silence. Uber is speechless, and our publisher Juergen Steinmetz was truly impressed after seeing Charley’s Taxi operation in their Honolulu headquarters.
Here is what Charley’s is not doing to compete with Uber. Almost everyone can become an Uber driver, understand the Uber app, and there is not much training necessary for drivers. With Uber accepting private car insurance and taking passengers, is and never will be tolerated at Charley’s according to hard working Dale Evans.
Charley’s is a taxi company with a lot of Aloha, and as we all know the quality is the key to a healthy travel and tourism industry.