The NZ Transport Agency says two Auckland taxi drivers have been penalised with instant $400 fines for refusing short journey fares, and four other drivers are under investigation for similar offences.
The two fines, imposed under the Operator Licensing Rules (2007) which prohibits drivers from refusing fares because the requested journey is too short, follow complaints to the NZTA from people unable to get rides in the central city area.
All six drivers charged were working at night when they refused the fares.
Two of the remaining four face fines after an operation by NZTA officers targeting central city ranks. The two others are the subject of complaints from people who tried to hire their taxis. One of the four drivers faces additional court action for removing his identification disc, which he is required by law to display inside his taxi.
Andy Thackwray, the Regional Manager in Auckland for Access and Use – the NZTA group responsible for regulating the taxi industry – says there has been increase in complaints recently about drivers refusing short fare trips, and the NZTA’s action sends a clear message to both the industry and to the public that the practise will not be tolerated.
“It’s not just a question of money, it’s also an issue of providing a service, especially at night. Everyone should have confidence that they can hire a taxi so that they can get to their destination safely, no matter the length of that journey.
“We accept that drivers, especially late at night, can wait a long time for a fare. There are several reasons when drivers can refuse a fare – if they feel at risk by a passenger’s behaviour, or if a passenger is intoxicated, under the influence of drink or drugs, in a filthy condition or doesn’t have enough money to pay.
“However, the distance a person wants to travel is not a reasonable nor legitimate excuse for refusing a fare,” Mr Thackwray says.
All six drivers are able to continue to drive, but Mr Thackwray says their refusal to accept short journeys may be taken into account when they have to renew the P endorsement on their licence, which they need to operate as taxi drivers.
“Taxi drivers and their companies play an important role in the transport network helping people to go about their day to day business, and they have an obligation to provide a reliable and safe service – not just during the Rugby World Cup - but long before that tournament begins and long after it is over,” Mr Thackwray says. “The NZTA insists that drivers and companies comply with that obligation.”
For more information contact:
Auckland Media Manager
NZ Transport Agency
M + 64272137616