Uber becomes (more) legal in NZ

The Land Transport Amendment Bill (No 2) passed its third and final reading in Parliament on 4 August. One of the changes it makes are to ‘small passenger’ service regulations (i.e. taxis). The new rules are expected to come into force on 1 October 2017.

Here are some different perspectives on the change.An email from Uber (received 4 August):

Uber recognised as part of New Zealand’s transport mix!

Harry,

Yesterday the New Zealand Government moved to formally recognise ridesharing as part of the country’s transport system.

This is the final stage in officially recognising your right to a safe, affordable and reliable ride across your city.

This wouldn’t have been possible without ACT MP David Seymour’s advocacy for sensible ridesharing regulations, as well as the efforts of the Minister for Transport, Simon Bridges MP, to deliver these reforms.

Most importantly, on behalf of the Uber team, I want to thank you. These reforms have only come about because you, along with 330,000 other New Zealanders, have chosen to ride with Uber.

Thank you,

Richard Menzies

General Manager

[button to ‘Show your support’]

Here’s the Minister of Transport, Simon Bridges comment:

Simon Bridges

3 August, 2017

A modern Land Transport Act

More flexibility in small passenger services, mandatory alcohol interlock sentences, and tougher penalties for fleeing drivers will all become law following the passing of the Land Transport Amendment Bill today, Transport Minister Simon Bridges says.

Mr Bridges says the Bill aims to promote better regulation, improved safety, and greater economic growth and productivity.

“New technologies are rapidly emerging, so we need to ensure we have the right regulations in place to allow innovation to thrive while managing safety risks,” Mr Bridges says.

“Smartphone apps and other advances in technology have changed how the small passenger service sector can operate.

“This Bill creates a single, simple category for all small passenger services, provides greater flexibility for emerging business models and encourages innovation, while ensuring safety for drivers and passengers.

“This Bill also improves safety for road users by simplifying the law relating to alcohol interlocks, and creating more effective deterrents to drivers fleeing from police.

“Alcohol interlocks are very effective as a public safety measure because they physically prevent an offender driving after drinking. This keeps the driver, their passengers and other road users safe.

“We’ll also see changes to clamp down on fleeing drivers and fare evaders.

“Crashes involving a fleeing driver where people have been killed or injured have nearly doubled – from 60 in 2012 to 117 in 2016.

“The Government is committed to making New Zealand roads safer and reducing the number of people injured and killed in crashes. Increasing the penalties for fleeing drivers sends a clear message that this behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

“Fare evasion on our public transport system is a growing problem. This new Bill provides new powers to enforcement officers so they can more effectively deal with fare evaders.

“Fare evaders increase the costs of public transport for paying passengers, as well as taxpayers and ratepayers who subsidise these services. It undermines the integrity of the ticketing systems used and the effectiveness of public transport generally.

“Act Party Leader, David Seymour, has had a keen interest in this Bill as it progressed through Parliament. His strong advocacy and contributions will ensure that this new piece of legislation is not only fit for purpose but encourages innovation in the transport sector.

“The Government remains committed to better regulation. This Bill also includes a range of minor amendments to clarify interpretations or the intent of the legislation, improve its operation, remove inconsistencies, and make minor technical adjustments,” Mr Bridges says.

The ACT Party:

ACT welcomes legislation to recognise ridesharing apps

August 3, 2017 at 4:35 pm.

By David Seymour

ACT Leader David Seymour welcomes the passage of legislation to ensure international ridesharing facilitators can operate in New Zealand.

“Too often, red tape prevents consumers from enjoying the benefits of new technology, and suppresses further innovation. Your typical MP is either too old or too accustomed to taxpayer-funded taxi rides to understand how services like Uber work.

“Meanwhile, regular New Zealanders who use Uber understand that outdated licensing and safety laws aren’t as effective as GPS tracking, two-way rating systems, and automatic driver-passenger identification.

“Just last year, Uber drivers were harassed by police and the company’s continued presence in New Zealand was in doubt.

“Now, after consistent pressure from ACT, the Government is today passing legislation to remove the red tape threatening Uber and similar companies from operating in New Zealand. We’ve also worked to reduce the bureaucracy and cost stopping everyday Kiwis from becoming Uber drivers.

“But these fixes took too long, and haven’t gone far enough. With more ACT MPs, we’ll ensure anyone who forks out $50 for a basic background check can drive for payment using ridesharing apps.”

And here’s a big taxi company:

New transport legislation throws away public safety

Thursday, 3 August 2017, 6:52 pm
Press Release: Blue Bubble Alliance
Blue Bubble Taxis is extremely disappointed the Government did not listen to the industry, and has pushed through flawed legislation that reduces safety for small passenger service vehicle (taxi) drivers and passengers.

The Land Transport Amendment Bill (No 2) passed its third and final reading in Parliament today, with the amendments relating to small passenger vehicles expected to come into force on 1 October 2017.

Blue Bubble Chief Executive Bob Wilkinson says “I am disappointed and quite frankly shocked the Government has proceeded with legislation that reduces safety for the New Zealand public and small passenger service vehicle drivers. We welcome competition and innovation, but are very concerned with this legislation.

“It is challenging to reconcile the Government’s statements that it is committed to making New Zealand roads safer, but on the other hand has reduced regulation for small passenger service vehicles, that was put in place to ensure safety.

“There are many examples of drivers exceeding work time hours, including the Uber driver dangerously driving for nine-hours straight, potentially working for 29 hours. This is unacceptable, and we are disappointed drivers will no longer be required to understand fatigue management and work time requirements.

“The Minister believes that technology ensures a safe method of transport, but an app only provides details of two mobile phones and no guarantee as to who is actually using the phone.

“It is also beggars belief that the Government ignored the disability sector’s pleas to retain braille signage on vehicles, which we also supported. One must question what, or who, was persuading the Government to do away with this.

“We are pleased that the requirement for all drivers to have a “P” Endorsement has been retained. This is an important safety protection for passengers that all drivers in New Zealand must have.

“But it is unacceptable that there are companies allowed to operate in New Zealand that do not comply with the current legislation. We cannot and should not tolerate scant regard for the rules.

“The Minister must ensure that the New Zealand Transport Agency has the resources and tools necessary to enforce the rules as New Zealanders expect is should. Unless we act and stand up to this, it will continue to happen.

“I commit to Blue Bubble Taxis continuing to comply with the legislative requirements and call out the other companies to state their commitment to comply with all New Zealand legislation and rules.

“I would like to thank the Labour Party, The Green Party, NZ First and the Maori Party who have stood up for passenger and driver safety.

“Reduced safety provisions are the last thing we wanted to see. Unfortunately, history tells us it’s not a question of if, but when a passenger or driver will be assaulted or seriously injured.

About Blue Bubble:

Blue Bubble Alliance Ltd is a group of 16 Taxi Companies throughout New Zealand. We operate around 2,000 taxis in 16 cities across New Zealand, and have around 3,000 drivers. Blue Bubble offers a range of services to the community including 24/7 availability; booking through our app, phone, online or hail; we accept Eftpos, Credit Cards, TaxiCharge and cash; airport transfers; vehicle options including vans and mobility vehicles; hybrid vehicles and Carbon Zero Certified cars; and a companion service for medial or shopping needs

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