Yellow cabs to muscle in on rank

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Wanaka taxis recruiting drivers to work from Queenstown CBD.

A Wanaka taxi firm will rev up competition for fares on the streets of Queenstown with a new 24/7 service.
Owners of Wan-A-Cab aim to start a full-time operation in the resort “within the next four to six weeks”.

Boss Steve Blackledge says they’ll employ up to 10 drivers with distinctive yellow cars and who’ll work from regular ranks in and around the CBD.

“This will be an extension of our Wanaka business,” he says. “We’re recruiting local drivers with local know­ledge.”

Earlier this month, Mountain Scene revealed a cab company scrap in the resort after Wan-A-Cab mounted a weekend cherry-picking exercise in Queens­town.

The move prompted the New Zealand Transport Agency – the body overseeing taxi licences – to step in to block further random raids and put the brakes on a potential turf war.

NZTA’s Queenstown regulator Garry Bain wrote to Blackledge advising that anyone wanting to operate in the Wakatipu would have to comply with the same terms and conditions as existing operators.

As a result, Blackledge insists they’ll do just that.

“We’ll now start a 24-hour, seven-day service like we have in Wanaka and with a communications centre in the Queenstown area,” he says. “We are already an approved taxi organisation with a good record and we’ll be calling ourselves Wan-A-Cab Queens­town.

“When we came over to the area recently, we were out of our usual zone – but it went well and people were flagging us down in the street.”

Three cab companies are already based here – Queenstown Taxis, Alpine Taxis and Corporate Cabs.

Jackie Kukutai, boss of Queenstown Taxis, says of the new competition: “They’ll be a niggle in our sides. But as far as having an impact on us, I don’t think they’ll affect what we do.”

A spokeswoman for Alpine Taxis adds: “This is quite a bit of a surprise. It’s pretty ambitious but I can’t see it working. Good luck to them.”

NZTA’s Garry Bain says there’s nothing to stop Wan-A-Cab setting up in Queenstown “as long as they meet all the criteria”.

Bain adds: “I wasn’t aware they’ve chosen to go down this path but they would make their application through the regional office in Dunedin.”