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As someone who uses passenger transport, it's important that you know and understand your rights and responsibilities. Here is a guide to what you can expect when using a passenger service (note this doesn't apply to rail services). It also includes some tips for using taxis, and details on how to make a complaint.

What are passenger services?

Passenger services include urban buses, taxis, shuttles, intercity buses, limousine services, coaches and dial-a-driver services.

Read more about passenger services

Taxi and shuttle responsibilities

You can expect your driver to:

  • display an ID card with their photo inside the taxi or shuttle in a place where it's clearly visible – if the photo doesn't match the driver or cannot be easily seen, you can choose another vehicle
  • act in an orderly, clean and civil manner
  • have the vehicle clearly identified with the company name and the fleet number or licensee name – shuttle licensee names should be on the outside of both front doors
  • demand no more than the exact amount of the fare and any other charges (if any), less any deduction of pre-payment of the fare
  • display a registered fare schedule – this will also make reference to an address for sending any complaints
  • provide fare information when asked
  • give a receipt for the fare if asked – the receipt must contain the driver's unique identification details and the vehicle's registration number
  • carry reasonable quantities of luggage and carry it with appropriate care
  • check the vehicle immediately after each hire for property that has been left behind, and report it to their office or the police.

Passengers confined to a wheelchair can ask for a taxi equipped with a wheelchair hoist.

In some cases, such as a pre-booked tour, the operator may be exempt from some of the above requirements.

If the you are travelling in a taxi, you can also expect your driver to:

  • take you to your destination using the shortest or most convenient route
  • not allow other people to ride in the taxi without your permission
  • inform you of any change in tariff when other hirers participate in a multiple hire
  • use the fare meter correctly without any intent to deceive or tamper with it in any way.

If you need a child restraint, ask the taxi company if they have a seat appropriate for your child's age and weight when you book your taxi. Most companies will be able to provide one.

When an operator can refuse service

There are some circumstances where operators can refuse to let you use their service. These include where:

  • you have failed to pay for a fare previously
  • the taxi driver feels threatened by you
  • you appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • you are in a filthy condition
  • you are consuming food or drink
  • you are noisy, violent or disturbing the peace
  • you don't have enough money to pay for the journey (the driver can ask for payment in advance)
  • you have more people wishing to travel than the number stated on the vehicle's certificate of loading.

Taxi drivers cannot refuse to take you if you are accompanied by an animal needed to help with a disability, such as a guide, companion or hearing dog. They can refuse to take other pets.

What should I do if I have a complaint? 

Taxi and shuttle drivers are required to display in their vehicles information on how to make a complaint.

There's a procedure in place if you want to make a complaint about a passenger service and have it investigated by the appropriate transport authorities. If the matter is serious, or concerns criminal activity, you should contact the New Zealand Police.

Otherwise, it's recommended that you first make your complaint directly to the taxi or shuttle company.  Operators of all types of passenger service are required to keep a register of complaints, which we review from time to time.

If you're not satisfied with the result of the company's internal investigation, you may make your complaint to the Transport Agency. 

Although complaints are usually made to the Transport Agency, other agencies – such as the New Zealand Police or the Ministry of Consumer Affairs – are able to record complaints and pass them on to the Transport Agency.

Note: Complaints that involve the schedules of a public transport service should be directed to the regional or district council in your area.

What is serious or criminal activity?

While serious or criminal activity includes assault and the theft of your belongings, it also includes where you feel:

  • you've been treated unfairly because of your race or ethnic origins
  • you've been treated inappropriately.

Making a complaint to the Transport Agency

  • Please submit your complaint to the Transport Agency in writing. If this isn't possible (for example, if you have a writing disability or you can only make contact by phone), a staff member will record your complaint.
  • A complaint carries more weight if signed, although your complaint won't be ignored if you don't sign it. If you don't wish to sign a complaint that has been written for you, or you don't wish to become involved as a witness in any prosecution that may result, this may affect the Transport Agency's ability to take further action (eg to prosecute).
  • After you make your complaint, or when notification of your complaint is received by the Transport Agency from another agency (such as the police), a staff member will be assigned to your case. They may interview you and other parties involved.
  • When your complaint has been investigated you will be informed of the outcome.

Contact us to make a complaint 

More information