Independent taxi drivers demand taxi stands and regulation change

May 29, 2024

Independent taxi drivers demand taxi stands and regulation change

Pradeep Sharma risks waiting for customers in a loading zone as a result of no taxi stands. Photo: James Weatherall.

Auckland's independent taxi drivers say they feel they have to break the law to make a living, due to a lack of taxi stands and legal parking places as well as few regulations protecting their trade.

And an industry association agrees there needs to be more oversight on the issues, including regulations.

“We risk parking in loading zones to run our business," says Mike, an independent taxi driver who wishes to remain anonymous.

Pradeep Sharma is also a driver who operates in loading zones.

"Even with the few taxi ranks in the city, there is no potential for customers there," he says.

For drivers like Mike and Sharma, their only chance of earning a living is operating out of loading zones and risking an "unpayable fine."

Sharma says he has "no other choice."

"Auckland Transport only needs to take one photo of my vehicle even if I pull into a loading bay to drop a customer off.

"Where will I get the money to pay this fine?" he says.

The Small Passenger Services Association says there was a net reduction in taxi stands after the 2017 regulations around small passenger services.

"There needs to be more industry oversight," says Warren Quirke, association director.

He is also concerned about protecting passengers.

"The only thing protecting customers now is that the two parties must agree on the price before the trip."

But, he says, "someone might be hammered after drinking or look wealthy, and drivers can charge a tariff to their liking."

Most independent drivers say they don't like the idea of overcharging but also see it as a way of survival.

"There are black sheep in the industry that make everyone look bad. There are no rules with the pricing per kilometre," says Sharma.

Both Mike and Sharma believe there should be an industry-standard flat rate for ride-sharing and all taxi services.

Quirke agrees price gouging needs to be stamped out but has different opinions on an industry flat rate.

"I am not in favour of an industry flat rate. Competition is good, this is because of the different levels of service," says Quirke.

NZTA's 2022 The Small Passengers Improvement Report looked at problems in the small passenger sector, but did not address the topic of limited taxi stands.

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