Warning over social media taxi schemes

Dunedin taxi users are being urged to prioritise their safety before accepting cheap fares from social media-based taxi schemes.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency compliance manager Kelvin Lloyd said many people were using the Dunedin Sober Drivers Facebook page for late night or early morning journeys.

But many of those drivers had not passed an important vetting process and some did not have safe vehicles.

Regulated taxi drivers must hold a Small Passenger Service Licence (SPS), which gives the holders the legal right to carry passengers for money, subject to conditions.

Crucially, those taxi drivers had to pass a police vetting process before they could receive their SPS licence, Mr Lloyd said.

"This can provide some reassurance to the public that the licensed driver taking you home has passed the fit and proper test."

People should check that all of those safety systems are in place before committing to a ride, he said.

"Is the person who they say they are? Check their ID.

"Do they have a Small Passenger Service licence and a Certificate of Fitness displayed on the vehicle?” he said.

Road Policing Centre national director Superintendent Steve Greally said using a taxi, Uber or other small passenger services was a great alternative to drink-driving.

"But at the end of the night, be careful not to get into an illegally operating SPS," he said.

"If they aren’t properly licensed, don’t get in.

"Having a licence means the driver and their car are safe."

Waka Kotahi declined to comment on whether an incident related to social-media taxi schemes had happened. Police have been contacted for comment.

Police and Waka Kotahi are advising anyone wanting a safe ride home to  —

● Keep safe by staying together, don’t let your friends go off alone.
● Share a ride home, just make sure it is a licensed, safe operator.
● Check if the driver’s photo ID, SPS and CoF (Certificate of Fitness) is visible.
● Agree on a price before you get in. They must also give you a receipt.
● Make sure your phone is charged before heading out so that you can keep in touch with friends and family throughout your ride home.
● Share these messages to your friends so they know their rights and can be safe at night and after parties. 


If they are on a taxi rank waiting for fares, then the law also requires they have a security camera installed and operating correctly - and not just any camera. It must be tamper-proof and is used as evidence in the event there is an issue, either with customer or driver behaviour. Many of the fly-by-night operators don't have them; for one they are expensive at over $700 or so, leaving customers further vulnerable to bad driver behaviour.

I have hardly ever seen these being checked. In fact after driving full time for almost three years, I have only once had such a check done.

Enforcement is the answer, but no one seems willing to clean up the fringe dwellers.



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