Nearly 60 Uber drivers have been caught operating illegally in the two months since the ride-sharing service speeded up and relaxed its registration process for new drivers when it launched in Christchurch.
The New Zealand Transport Agency said it was cracking down on the new way Uber was operating as it was illegal, and sending any new drivers registering with the company an outline of what their legal obligations were.
“We are making it very, very clear to new drivers that come on board what their legal obligations are,” NZTA operations manager Kate Styles told Radio New Zealand
“The fines will be on them, the record will be on their own drivers licence, any insurance issues they will be wearing those.
“People are under no illusion that they are liable.”
About 1,700 drivers had signed up to Uber in the past two months, she said.
“Over the last two months we have been really clear with Uber that the new way they are operating is illegal,” she said.
Coinciding with its Christchurch launch, Uber adopted a different driver registration model to its Auckland and Wellington services, despite not getting the green light from the Government to do so.
In Christchurch, Uber drivers can get approved through a registration that costs $20 and takes six days to obtain. They usually require a ‘P’ endorsement – a passenger endorsement ticket from the NZTA that costs $2,000 and takes three months to get.
This change has triggered a drop in income according to Christchurch’s taxi drivers, who staged a protest in the city earlier this week.
Taxi Federation spokesman Tim Reddish said Uber drivers had not been made to meet the same legal requirements as taxi drivers, such as compliance costs, full criminal checks and marked cars.
“We have no worries about the competition, what we are concerned about is an even market playing field, passenger safety guarantees, and the current legislation are being observed, and they’re not being,” Radio New Zealand
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