Night Bus Dunedin operator Andrew Rutherford with the rock
he says was thrown through the window of his bus while
passengers were on board. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
A rock hurled through the window of a Dunedin night bus -
while passengers were on board - is the latest sign of
escalating tension between the operator and some city taxi
drivers, it has been claimed.
Andrew Rutherford, of Dunedin, said he had faced ''threats,
intimidation and violence'' since he launch his Night Bus
Dunedin service from the Octagon last month.
One taxi driver had made a throat-slitting gesture, while
another had warned him: ''There's 200 of us and one of you,''
In the most serious incident, a rock smashed through the back
window of Mr Rutherford's bus in High St about 5am last
Some passengers reported seeing the offender ride off on a
scooter, and Mr Rutherford said police had told him the
scooter had been traced to the home of a Dunedin-based taxi
''It could have been manslaughter. It was a rock sailing past
a passenger's head,'' Mr Rutherford said.
Dunedin road policing manager Senior Sergeant Phil McDouall
could not confirm the scooter owner was a taxi driver, but
said an investigation was under way, and cautioned both sides
to operate within the law.
''I know some taxi drivers are a bit annoyed with him, but
he's ... operating a legal service.''
Mr Rutherford, a former Kiwi Shuttle driver, said the Land
Transport Management Amendment Act - introduced last year -
allowed him to operate the ''unscheduled'' service without
registering a route with the Otago Regional Council.
New Zealand Transport Agency staff confirmed Mr Rutherford
held the transport service licence and passenger endorsement
he required to operate his service legally.
Mr Rutherford's service operated from a P5 park in the upper
Octagon - right next to a night-time taxi rank - ferrying
paying passengers from the Octagon to their homes in his
However, he operated only from about midnight to 5am on
Sundays, when queues of people waiting for taxis were
He charged about $3 a km but declined to say how much he
earned each night.
''It's not a large amount of money.''
However, some taxi drivers were upset Mr Rutherford was also
using their upper Octagon taxi rank, next to the P5 space,
Tensions have been escalating. Taxi drivers had put road
cones out to block access to the P5 space, and used their
taxis to block his bus, Mr Rutherford said.
City United Taxis manager Nicola Darling declined to comment,
saying she was still ''getting to the bottom'' of the
Dunedin Taxis manager Simone Green said her drivers were
annoyed by Mr Rutherford's use of the taxi rank, and she had
referred their concerns to NZTA.
''The fact is it's a massive investment for taxi drivers to
be in the industry ... To have anybody that cuts into that
without any proper jurisdiction just isn't appropriate.''
Complaints from both sides have also prompted Dunedin City
Council senior traffic engineer Ron Minnema to clarify the
The P5 was available for any vehicle but Mr Rutherford's bus
could not use the taxi rank, and he had bus stops available
elsewhere in the Octagon, Mr Minnema said.
Mr Rutherford said he had used the taxi rank when vehicles
parked in the P5 space for ''hours'' at night, without
enforcement action by the council.
Mr Minnema said enforcement occurred on weekends ''from time
to time'' .
Despite that, Mr Rutherford said use of the taxi stand was a
''parking issue'' comparable to a member of the public
overstaying on a timed meter.
''They [taxi drivers] see that area as their territory, and
they're going to want to defend it by whatever means