By PHILIP CHANDLER
Financially-struggling cabbies are up in arms over Queenstown’s council renewing $500-a-cab permits they believe are worthless.
Council last year introduced the 12-month permits to try to clean up the
industry after concerns over the antics of many independent cabbies.
Local cab bosses even hailed the move, under which 150 cab-stand permits were issued, however they’ve now changed their tune.
They believe the system’s not working as it’s allegedly not being enforced, especially late at night when the situation’s worst.
And they’re critical they weren’t consulted, as they’d expected to be, before permit renewals were sought.
‘‘That review has not taken place, it’s just been renewed for a further 12-month period with a further $500 cash grab, which is the way I view the charge for the permit,’’ Green Cabs’ Graeme Hadley says.
‘‘The council’s argument would be the $500 is guaranteeing you a spot on a taxi stand.
‘‘The reality is independent cars without permits are just parking anywhere they want.’’
If council was monitoring the situation it would be different, he argues.
‘‘They have ticket wardens but they only work 9 to 9.
‘‘But the big problem is most of these [independent] drivers are doing it as a
second job, they’re working all day and coming out at night to top up their income, so the times they need to be monitored, there’s nobody out there.
‘‘They just literally flood the town with independent cars, and they cause a lot of problems with [customer] complaints.’’
Queenstown Taxis’ Grant Scannell suggests complaints over independent cabbies overcharging, or customers not getting back lost property, have worsened.
‘‘On a Monday I receive complaint after complaint — a lot of people think the vehicles are related to us as they’re white.
‘‘We’ve just been through the hardest year, and the council wants to hit us with another $500 per vehicle.
‘‘I’ve been talking to other companies around New Zealand, they’re all back to 60 to 80% of their incomes, we’re at 16.8%.
‘‘We’ve also seen an impact from Uber, with a lot of people losing their jobs
becoming Uber operators.’’
Corporate Cabs’ Ian Paterson regrets they’ve not had a round-table discussion with council.
‘‘It would have been good to probably sit down and just say, ‘what went right, what went wrong, what can we do to improve it’, that sort of stuff.’’
Council spokesman Jack Barlow confirms it’s in the process of renewing permits for a further 12 months.
‘‘After starting the permitting system in July 2019, the permits themselves were extended from 12 months to 15 months to cover economic losses sustained during the Covid lockdown and economic downturn.
‘‘They now expire at the end of November 2021.’’
Taxi ranks are monitored 24/7 by CCTV, and all non-compliance results in a ticket.