22 Apr 2016

Taxi and Uber drivers will have to follow the same rules

11:27 am on 22 April 2016

Taxi and ride-sharing companies such as Uber are to be governed by one set of rules, after pressure for a shake-up from both sides.

The Government's rewriting the rulebook for companies and drivers who transport passengers.

The Government's rewriting the rulebook for companies and drivers who transport passengers. Photo: AFP

Transport Minister Simon Bridges and Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss announced the changes last night.

What will no longer be required

  • Area knowledge certificate is dropped - GPS technology will do the job instead
  • Removal of the need to display information about fares
  • Companies or operators won't need to belong to an approved taxi organisation, such as the Taxi Federation
  • Driver panic alarms monitored 24/7 are no longer a must-have
  • Don't have to demonstrate an ability to "communicate in English"

What stays the same

  • Drivers of taxis and Uber cars will still undergo a police check (automatic when they get what's called a "P endorsement")
  • Most vehicles will still have security cameras but companies like Uber can apply to be exempt
  • Drivers' time behind the wheel will continue to be limited

The changes will be considered by Parliament as part of the Land Transport Amendment Bill this year, but are unlikely to come in before next year.

Taxi Federation executive director Tim Reddish said the new regulations would even out the playing-field, but he sees some problems as well - particularly with panic alarms able to be removed from taxis.

"Since panic alarms have been in there and since cameras have been in there, we've had no murders, no serious assaults and passenger behaviour has been considerably modified.

He said it was inexplicable that the alarms were part of the review.

Uber is yet say what it thinks of the changes, but when they were announced yesterday it took 20 percent off its prices.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges said the government had clearly stated its intention to encourage innovation and enable new kinds of services.

"Freeing up the regulatory environment will allow transport operators to compete on an even footing." 

He said safety remained paramount.

"We are keeping the P endorsements, with the criminal checks, and also as the wider character checks that will need to be conducted by the Police and the New Zealand Transport Agency."

Bridges said some rules that imposed costs on operators, but no longer provides any significant benefits, would be removed.

A version of this story was first published on rnz.co.nz