Pas­sen­ger ser­vice new rules fears

Otago Daily Times - - Regions - TRACEY ROXBURGH

THE NZ Trans­port Agency says it will be car­ry­ing out road­side op­er­a­tions from to­mor­row to en­sure pas­sen­ger ser­vice providers are com­ply­ing with new reg­u­la­tions.

Changes to the leg­is­la­tion for small pas­sen­ger ser­vices come into ef­fect to­mor­row and essen­tially dereg­u­late the in­dus­try na­tion­wide.

New Zealand Taxi Fed­er­a­tion ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor John Hart and Queen­stown Taxis man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Grant Scan­nell said they were both con­cerned about the new rules open­ing the door for ‘‘cow­boy’’ op­er­a­tors.

They feared it might cre­ate safety is­sues and also ques­tioned whether the NZTA and po­lice had suf­fi­cient re­sourc­ing to mon­i­tor com­pli­ance.

How­ever, NZTA South Is­land road com­pli­ance man­ager Der­mot Har­ris said the agency had enough staff to en­sure a ‘‘smooth tran­si­tion’’ and did not an­tic­i­pate any ‘‘ma­jor is­sues with com­pli­ance’’.

At present the NZTA has one staff mem­ber work­ing within the Cen­tral Otago area, but oth­ers lo­cated through­out the South­ern re­gion.

There were no plans to in­crease staffing lev­els, Mr Har­ris said.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the agency worked closely with other agen­cies, in­clud­ing New Zealand Po­lice.

In a state­ment, Se­nior Sergeant Mike McRan­dle, of Christchurch, said the com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle safety team (CVST) would be sup­port­ing the NZTA to mon­i­tor com­pli­ance.

A ‘‘crit­i­cal’’ as­pect for po­lice would be man­ag­ing fa­tigue.

‘‘Po­lice will be ac­tively mon­i­tor­ing the changes in leg­is­la­tion to sup­port the com­mu­nity and keep all road users and pas­sen­gers safe,’’ he said.

But, Mr Hart said the new rules were ‘‘crazy’’ and would leave women, in par­tic­u­lar, vul­ner­a­ble to at­tack.

‘‘From a safety point of view it’s ridicu­lous — it just doesn’t make any sense.’’

He said he had raised his con­cerns with the Gov­ern­ment ‘‘but they’ve made up their minds’’.

TakeMe man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Luis Kreis­che said he did not be­lieve pas­sen­gers hail­ing cars from ranks needed to be wor­ried about safety be­cause all such ve­hi­cles would need a cam­era fit­ted.

How­ever, the changes would desta­bilise and frag­ment the mar­ket.

‘‘The com­pe­ti­tion is about to in­crease like no­one has ever seen be­fore.

‘‘Any­one that’s op­er­at­ing a tour com­pany or li­mou­sine com­pany . . . will be able to come to a taxi rank, pro­vided they’ve got a se­cu­rity cam­era.

Mr Hart said that could open the door for ‘‘cow­boy’’ op­er­a­tors.

If pas­sen­gers had prob­lems with driv­ers ‘‘there’s go­ing to be ab­so­lutely no way of track­ing th­ese things down’’.

He also ques­tioned who would en­sure new op­er­a­tors were pay­ing taxes and had li­a­bil­ity in­sur­ance, health and safety plans, drug and al­co­hol poli­cies and test­ing pro­ce­dures.

He was also wor­ried about in­suf­fi­cient re­sourc­ing to mon­i­tor com­pli­ance ef­fec­tively.

‘‘I just don’t know how any­one is go­ing to be able to po­lice what’s go­ing on.

‘‘I think it’s chal­leng­ing times — it’s not all neg­a­tive . . . but there are some con­cerns.’’

An in­di­vid­ual op­er­a­tor could be fined up to $2000 for breach­ing the new leg­is­la­tion, or up to $10,000 for a com­pany.

PHOTO: GRE­GOR RICHARD­SON

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