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Taxi industry under attack by Auckland City Cl.

Taxi industry under attack by ACC

Auckland City Council is mounting a sustained attack on the taxi industry, and thousands of taxi users and professional drivers will suffer, the Taxi Federation said today.

Taxi Federation executive director, Tim Reddish, says the Council is discriminating against taxis by refusing them access to bus lanes, and by planning to remove taxi stands from high use areas in the CBD.

"Taxis are defined legally as a form of public transport, and the Minister of Transport has said they should have the same opportunities and access to priority transport lanes as other public transport providers.

"Taxis do have access to inner city priority lanes in Wellington, and all lanes in Christchurch and in Australia, but not in Auckland where, it seems, monopoly bus operators can call the tune.

"This has serious implications for taxi users who can't be dropped off or picked up where there are bus lanes. This will affect the elderly, the disabled and businesspeople whose buildings are now in these 'taxi no-go areas'.

"It is also exceptionally frustrating for our members who provide a professional public service in a city with a major need for efficient inner city transport."

Auckland City Council says safety is one reason taxis are denied access to priority lanes. However, Mr Reddish says the Wellington, Christchurch and Australian experiences show clearly that taxis and buses can co-exist with no safety problems.

"What makes the whole situation even more galling is the total lack of consultation by Auckland City Council.

"It never approached the Taxi Federation, and while we were making our submission on this issue we were given a copy of the Transport Committee's final recommendations.

"That smacks of a pre-determined outcome."

The Federation also fears Auckland City Council's review of taxi stands is the first stage of a plan to force even more taxi operators out of the CBD.

"At least we are being consulted on this proposal, but we are very concerned about the Council's long-term intentions, and their willingness to respond to our submissions, given their approach to our industry so far," Mr Reddish said.

There are 49 Council-controlled taxi stands in Auckland, 22 of which operate at night. Of the remaining 27 stands, Council intends to close eight of them (30 percent) and cut a further three by almost 50 percent capacity.

"Taxi numbers in Auckland must be controlled," Mr Reddish said.

"But cutting rank space, which we use for the legitimate undertaking of our business, is not the answer. It will just force another 1,000-2,000 drivers to cruise the CBD looking for passengers - imagine that in Queen Street at peak times.

"Nor is it right to deny us access to public transport lanes.

"For Auckland to remedy its taxi issues, it should work with the Federation to convince Government to control unrestricted entry to the taxi industry.

"If we improve regulation of the industry, which the Federation believes is necessary, we will achieve better outcomes for everyone - passengers, drivers and central and local authorities."

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