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The NZ Transport Agency welcomes a $1000 court fine an Auckland taxi driver must pay after twice refusing to accept a fare because the journey was too short.
The NZTA had originally issued a $400 infringement notice, but the driver requested a court hearing. He had pleaded guilty in writing before the court imposed the $1000 fine and costs of $30.67.
The fine followed an NZTA investigation after a complaint about the driver’s actions. NZTA evidence to the Auckland District court said that two men had tried to hire a taxi mid-afternoon last March from a rank in Federal Street in the central city to Karangahape Road. The NZTA said the driver refused their fare because the distance between the two locations was, in his words, ‘just a four minute walk.’
The men rang the driver’s company who advised them to get back into his taxi. When the driver again refused their fare, they found another taxi at the same rank willing to take them. The men made a formal complaint to the NZTA.
Rick Barber, the Regional Manager in Auckland for Access and Use – the NZTA group responsible for regulating the taxi industry – says the NZTA investigation and the increased fine is a clear message for both the industry and the public that refusing short trip fares is a practise that will not be tolerated.
“It’s not just a question of money, it’s also an issue of providing a service,” Mr Barber says. “Everyone should have confidence that they can hire a taxi so that they can get to their destination safely, no matter the length of that journey.”
Mr Barber says there are several reasons when drivers can refuse a fare: if they feel at risk by the behaviour of their passengers, or if a passenger is intoxicated, or under the influence of drugs..
“However, the distance a person wants to travel is not a reasonable nor legitimate excuse for refusing a fare,” he says.
The NZTA plans no further action against the driver, and he is able to continue to drive his taxi.