An Auckland court has fined a taxi driver $1000 for refusing to accept a fare stating that the distance was ‘too short to drive.’
The court decision followed a New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) investigation after a member of the public complained against the offending driver.
It is understood that the Agency issued a $400 infringement notice but the defendant preferred a court hearing.
He pleaded guilty in writing before the court imposed the fine and ordered him to pay an additional amount of $30.67 as other costs.
NZTA provided evidence at the court hearing, stating that two men had tried to hire a taxi mid-afternoon in March from a taxi rank in Federal Street in the Central City to Karangahape (K) Road.
“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,” NZTA Regional Manager Rick Barber said.
He said that the court ruling sent a clear message to the industry and the public that refusing short trip fares is a practise that would not be tolerated.
“It is not just a question of money; it is also an issue of providing a service. 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 said.
He said there were several reasons for drivers to refuse a fare: if they feel at risk by the behaviour of their passengers, if a passenger is intoxicated, or under the influence of drugs, they can refuse. But the distance a person wants to travel is neither a reasonable nor legitimate excuse for refusing a fare,” he said.
Mr Barber said that NZTA did not plan further action against the driver, and that he would be able to continue to drive his taxi.