I take a lot of cabs. As a professional musician who lives in town, I find it easier than battling traffic, finding and paying for parking, and lugging my gear to and from the venue from an always far away stall. I get door-to-door transpo for about twenty bucks. It occurs to me that most Oahu vacationers can save cherished time and funds by cabbing it when negotiating transportation in urban Honolulu. I’ve learned a few things about the cab culture here, and I’ve had experiences that led to friendships and others that have ended, well, let’s just say poorly. I offer here some things to consider when getting a cab.

Most Waikiki hotels are contracted with reputable taxicab companies. If you need a ride from the hotel, have the desk summon one. Your accommodations provider is loathed to steer you wrong.

Don’t hail a cab. Call for one. In my experience, there are two reputable cab companies on Oahu. There are more, certainly, but the ones I’ve used and trust are Charley’s and The Cab. Charley’s has long been the most recognized name in cabs on Oahu, but The Cab has gained considerable market share, possibly due to a painfully cheesy television ad campaign that features local comedian Frank DeLima in drag, singing poorly conceived but maddeningly memorable jingles.

Most of these companies’ cabs are video-surveilled for the protection of both the driver and their fare. And by speaking with a dispatcher, you can be assured that there will be a record of when and where you were picked up and discharged. If you’re out and about away from your accommodations, calling for a cab is a safer bet than hailing one.

There are poachers. Taxicabs are regulated by the City Finance Department and the Public Utilities Commission, which have established maximum rates and fares. Particularly in Waikiki, there are a number of unlicensed cabs who make their money by being hailed, as opposed to being dispatched. They are basically people with an arbitrary meter. They’re fairly obvious, with hand-crafted lamps that try to look legitimate but are given away by poor craftsmanship. And they are uniformly malodorous. You’re likely to be taken for a figurative ride during your literal ride. Tired and longing for home, the last time I hailed a poacher I ended up in the Emergency Room. Just saying.

Know where you’re going and how to get there. Your phone has an app for that. Use it. Even reputable cab companies employ drivers who know how to milk a fare. The majority of cab drivers in Honolulu are not native English speakers, and some use that to jack up a fare by feigning cluelessness. Don’t let the language barrier cost you time and money.

My cab’s here…


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