The smartphone app causing a stir around the world won't
spark protest action in New Zealand, despite it fostering
illegal competition against cabbies, a taxi spokesman tells
New Zealand Taxi Federation executive director Roger Healey
says no protest action is planned in New Zealand despite Uber
running illegally in Auckland since May.
The growing use of the Uber app recently sparked protests
from registered cabbies in Washington, London, Paris, Berlin
The San Francisco-based company's mobile app connects
passengers with available drivers.
The payment for the ride was settled with Uber, not the
driver, with the passenger's credit card being billed after
By way of comparison in New Zealand, a Uber fare in Auckland
booked earlier this week for 1pm cost a $1.50 flagfall and
50c per minute and $1.45 per km.
At the same time, a Dunedin Taxi cost was a $2.90 flagfall
and $2.80 per km.
The Uber website said its rates changed when demand was high
to entice more cars on the road to ensure reliability during
When car supply was sufficient, the ''surge pricing'' stopped
and the pricing returned to normal.
Mr Healey said Uber fares tracked fare by distance using
Global Positioning System technology.
As Uber was a private hire company, not a taxi company, it
was illegal to have a meter.
A question remained on how the New Zealand Transport Agency
would police Uber drivers.
Mr Healey said the federation expected Uber to ignore any
agency requests to change the way it operated and would
challenge the Government agency in court.
The federation expected Uber to stay in New Zealand so it was
educating passengers on the advantages of hailing a taxi.
A taxi was safer because it had a camera, a safety alarm for
the driver, was available all the time and its operators were
The Uber drivers were not working for Uber - they used the
app to find work - so Uber, or the driver, had no
accountability, he said.
Mr Healey agreed the waiting time for a taxi in central
Dunedin on a Saturday night could be long and the federation
was ''desperate'' to recruit more drivers. The federation had
a plan to attract more drivers to the industry, including
helping drivers get a passenger endorsement on their driver's
The federation would promote taxi driving as a lucrative
career, he said.
''You can earn a lot of money working part-time.''
An advantage of Uber entering the New Zealand market was it
provided drivers with a taste and could entice them to enter
the taxi industry.
NZTA access and use central regional manager Kate Styles said
the agency was ''making it very clear'' to Uber how to comply
with New Zealand legislation.
As Uber was a private hire company it could not use a meter
system and could only charge passengers two ways.
''They must either agree a fixed charge with a customer
before the journey commences or they must agree an hourly
The agency would take Uber to court if necessary, she said.
For an Uber driver to pick up a passenger, they needed a
passenger endorsement on their driver's licence, to keep a
log book, and drive an approved vehicle, she said.
Uber now operated in more than 70 cities since launching in
Uber Sydney general manager David Rohrsheim did not respond
to interview requests or questions about whether Uber had
plans to operate in Otago.