One law proposed for taxis and Uber

Transport Minister Simon Bridges is introducing a bill to Parliament which seeks to unify road laws so Uber and taxi companies all meet the same rules.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges is introducing a bill to Parliament which seeks to unify road laws so Uber and taxi companies all meet the same rules.

The Transport Minister is introducing a bill to Parliament that seeks to unify road laws so Uber and taxi companies follow the same rules.

Simon Bridges introduced the Land Transport Amendment Bill yesterday, which also gives new powers to fine fare dodgers on trains and buses, changes interlocks for drunk drivers and changes penalties for people who flee police.

"The Land Transport Amendment Bill will overhaul key areas of transport law to modernise the sector and make travelling more efficient and safer," Bridges said.

"Changes to the small passenger service rules will simplify requirements to accommodate new business models."

These changes were signalled in April, after ride-sharing service Urber came under fire for not meeting the same requirements as traditional taxi services.

Areas of concern included compulsory driver identification and passenger endorsement to operate as a passenger service vehicle.

"The amendments will reduce compliance costs allowing taxis, private hire vehicles and shuttles the flexibility to be innovative while maintaining the safety of passenger, drivers and vehicles," Bridges said yesterday.

The Bill will make technical amendments that relate to heavy vehicles, updating penalties for operators who exceed vehicle height, length and weight limits.

Greater use of alcohol interlocks, which stops a car from starting if the driver has been drinking, was expected to prevent recidivist drunk drivers and high risk offenders.

"Alcohol interlocks are a highly effective tool for reducing drink-driving," Bridges said.

"[The Bill] also proposes to increase the penalties for drivers who fail to stop for the police to up to two years' disqualification from driving, and strengthens the power of courts to confiscate the vehicles of repeat offenders."

Enforcement officers will also be given new powers to address fare evasion on public transport, a move signalled in September last year.

Fare evaders could be fined up to $1000 for disobeying orders to get off trains, buses or ferries.

It was suggested last year legislation would also change to empower warranted council enforcement officers to issue more immediate infringement fines of $150 a time.

"Reducing fare evasion makes sure public transport operators receive all the revenue they are entitled to, and that all passengers pay their fair share," Bridges said yesterday.

The Bill also contains a range of minor technical amendments.

- NZ Herald

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