The NZ Transport Agency has welcomed the conviction and fines imposed on the director of three Auckland taxi companies who allowed some of his drivers to operate taxis without the correct passenger service licence.
Krishna Lal was fined a total of $9200 after pleading guilty in the Henderson District Court to a total of 14 charges relating to taxi licences. The charges involved three companies operated by Mr Lal: Era Cabs Ltd, Budget Taxis Ltd and Waitakere Taxis Ltd.
District Court Judge Oke Blaikie told Mr Lal that people operating a taxi service had a significant obligation to ensure drivers were properly qualified and operated within the law.
Harry Wilson, acting Manager for the NZTA’s Access and Use group, which is responsible for monitoring the taxi industry, said Mr Lal’s conviction delivered a clear message to the taxi industry ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup.
“The licensing system underpins the integrity and quality of our taxi services, provides people with confidence in taxi services, and promotes the safety of customers and other roads users,” says Mr Wilson.
. “The door to a taxi is likely to be the first many visiting rugby fans will open when they arrive in New Zealand, and this court case will help ensure that they will be able to do so with confidence in the taxi industry and its drivers.”
Mr Lal’s conviction followed a complaint to the NZTA about one of his drivers abusing the Total Mobility scheme, a subsidised taxi service providing a 50% discount off normal fares for people with serious mobility constraints.
A woman in her 80s, unable to speak following a stroke, was charged $70 instead of a more appropriate $15 taxi fare. In a separate case, the driver was convicted of fraud and sentenced to 175 hours community service. The NZTA revoked the passenger service endorsement on his licence and banned him from operating a taxi for 5 years.
After the complaint, the NZTA investigated Mr Lal and his directorship of three taxi companies. Sixteen of his drivers were convicted earlier this year of not having a passenger service licence to operate a taxi and they were fined between $300 and $1000.
“Operating a taxi service comes with many responsibilities,” says Mr Wilson. “Those responsibilities are not something the NZTA will compromise on.”