Taxis 'overregulated'

A Dunedin taxi company director says industry watchdogs have "gone mad" in the wake of recent legislation changes and the approaching Rugby World Cup tournament.

United Taxis director Bill Overton, an industry veteran with 42 years' experience operating taxis, said companies are being overregulated.

A combination of legislation changes, which came into effect on August 1 requiring taxis to fit costly security camera and round-the-clock monitoring systems, and the approaching Rugby World Cup tournament, had created a compliance "nightmare" for operators, he said.

Mr Overton's comments were prompted by a recent inspection of taxi vehicles in central Dunedin by the New Zealand Transport Agency and a subsequent announcement police officers will be checking taxis in Dunedin before the start of the Rugby World Cup.

"They've gone mad. The whole thing has been a nightmare for us, ever since they decided we needed to have cameras in our cars," Mr Overton said.

He questioned why a second round of vehicle compliance inspections was needed in Dunedin before the World Cup.

United Taxis had spent about $36,000 to install the new security equipment in its fleet of 25 vehicles, he said.

Operators also had the ongoing cost to factor in of employing someone "around the clock" to monitor the GPS and camera systems, he said.

"We've spent all this money, undergone our regular warrant checks, and now they want to bring in the cops to check us as well," Mr Overton said.

The police commercial vehicle investigation unit (CVIU) is scheduled to conduct inspections of taxis in Dunedin on August 19.

NZTA Otago-Southland principal transport officer Dermot Harris said the inspections were to ensure that all taxis were compliant with the relevant legislation before the Rugby World Cup.

"The NZTA is working with the co-operation and support of local Dunedin taxi companies to ensure that the local cab fleet is safe and legally compliant," he said.

"Amnesty" checks would also be carried out by the NZTA and CVIU in Queenstown and Invercargill next month, to monitor the compliance levels of taxis and buses before the Rugby World Cup.

NZTA inspectors ordered two taxis off the road after an inspection on Monday, when it found a taxi was operating with two bald tyres, while another car did not have a valid registration.

The law change requiring the installation of the security measures, which applies to taxis operating in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua, Gisborne, Napier, Hastings, Palmerston North, New Plymouth, Wanganui, Wellington, Nelson, Dunedin, Queenstown, and Invercargill, was implemented following a spate of attacks on taxi drivers which included the killing of Hiren Mohini, who was stabbed to death by a passenger in Auckland last year.



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