QLDC to introduce permit system for taxi ranks

QLDC plans to initially issue 150 permits to vehicles operating from taxi ranks in Queenstown at...
QLDC plans to initially issue 150 permits to vehicles operating from taxi ranks in Queenstown at a proposed cost of $500 per permit. Photo: Getty Images

The head of the New Zealand Taxi Federation has praised the Queenstown Lakes District Council's plans to introduce permits for small passenger vehicle service operators in the resort.

The council plans to initially issue 150 permits to vehicles operating from taxi ranks in Queenstown at a proposed cost of $500 per permit.

It would give the council oversight at ranks in the Queenstown CBD and ensure all operators were compliant.

To date, oversight has been provided by the NZ Transport Agency in association with the police commercial vehicle safety team and, sometimes, Immigration New Zealand.

The NZTA said in a statement there had been small passenger service vehicle checks in Queenstown ''from time to time'' since the industry was deregulated in October, 2017.

Its last check was in November.

There had ''generally'' been good rates of overall compliance and NZTA had not received any passenger complaints, directly or through the council, recently.

''When notified of breaches of transport legislation or safety issues, we will take action and investigate.''

Changes to legislation meant anyone with a P-endorsement and a small passenger service licence could carry passengers in vehicles without signage; drivers no longer needed any local area knowledge or meet English language requirements; and there were no requirements for meters or panic buttons.

In-vehicle cameras were still required for any Queenstown operators picking up hails or operating from taxi ranks.

However, operators such as Uber, which picked up registered passengers, were exempt.

New Zealand Taxi Federation executive director John Hart said the council's move to issue permits, which would be revoked on a single, verifiable breach, and monitor ranks was ''very commendable''.

''There is obviously a problem - and it's a serious problem in some areas and, from what we hear, Queenstown has a serious problem.

''I ... get feedback from people who have been ripped off, charged too much, have lost gear in taxis and haven't been able to get it back, and all sorts of things that should not happen,'' he said.

The problem was things went wrong and people could not be traced.

''This way, all of that's going to change as a result of what the Queenstown council is doing - they can just simply not afford to let it carry on the way it is in the country's premier tourist town.

''I think this move by the Queenstown council is very far-sighted and they're to be commended for it,'' Mr Hart said.

He believed the council was the first in the country to propose ''any firm action'' at ranks, but believed others might follow suit.

''Central Government opened the door and it looks as if it's not about to do anything about policing it, or enforcing the law, and I think the move that Queenstown council has made is very, very good.''

Council senior communications adviser Rebecca Pitts said the annual permits would be issued on a ''first come, first served'' basis to applicants who provided all the required information.

They would be issued to vehicles and on a rolling expiration, like a car registration.

The council would monitor closely from July 1 to September 30 and ''may consider'' issuing more permits, if necessary.

tracey.roxburgh@odt.co.nz

Comments

If the permit is assigned to a vehicle not a person then the whole idea of excluding rogue operators is blown. The dodgy driver just moves on to a different taxi company and continues with their behaviour. The taxi owner suffers, but probably not for long.