- Publish Date
- Tuesday, 15 December 2015, 7:48AM
Passenger service Uber says it is disappointed at recommendations under a government discussion paper that would see it have to operate under the same rules as taxis.
The review of regulations covering small passenger services, begun at the start of the year, has outlined five options and recommended one with fewer rules that apply to all operators in the sector. That includes taxis, private hire cars, shuttles, dial-a-driver and ride-sharing services.
Uber, a mobile app service that lets people book rides, is already popular in Auckland and Wellington and the use of ride-sharing apps (an extension of car pooling) is expected to become more widespread.
The global spread of Uber has been resisted by taxi operators, who have to function under tougher regulations that impose extra costs. Uber has argued it is not a taxi service, it links passengers with drivers who are private contractors.
It says the Government's proposals do nothing to cut red tape for people wanting to earn extra income through sharing rides in their own cars.
"The status quo of a minimum of eight weeks of administration and $1500 in fees to even get on the road is unacceptable. Yet there is no response from the Government as to how they plan to address this," it said.
The Government's role is to open up economic opportunity and choice for its citizens, "not put all models in one box and call it progress", Uber said.
Taxi Federation chief Roger Heale said he welcomed the release of the paper although the "devil is in the detail".
The paper says Uber should check drivers' log books and vehicle safety and limit drivers to the seven-hour time limits applied to taxi drivers.
The current requirement for taxis to install security cameras could be waived under some circumstances.
Panic alarms would no longer be required.
The rules on pricing would also change. Before the trip starts, drivers or the company at the time of booking would have to agree the basis of the fare with passengers, either a set fare or per kilometre rate rather than the fixed price or meter presently used in taxis.
The Ministry of Transport also suggests removing requirements for drivers to be able to speak English as the Transport Agency says few taxi drivers are tested for this requirement anyway. It also suggests removing an area knowledge test in urban areas, designed to ensure drivers use the most direct route, because new technology such as GPS systems mean passengers can track this themselves.
The review acknowledges rules developed in the 1980s haven't kept pace with changes in technology or customer expectations. It says the Government wants to mitigate the safety risks that exist because drivers and passengers have little information about each other. Public submissions on the consultation paper are open until February 12.