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Uber urges drivers to challenge NZTA

NZN 22/06/2016 Fiona Rotherham

Ridesharing service company Uber says it would encourage Kiwi drivers facing enforcement action from the New Zealand Transport Agency for flouting the driver endorsement rules to challenge that in court.

The smartphone-based driver service dropped its requirements in April for drivers to have a passenger (P) endorsement for their licence or a certificate of fitness for their car even though the NZTA says it is illegal. At the same time it slashed fares by 20 per cent, a move that has angered some of its driver partners.

"We want the judiciary to rule on this", said Uber public policy associate Ben Brooks at an Auckland hearing on Wednesday on submissions for an inquiry by the Transport and Industrial Relations select committee into the future of New Zealand's mobility.

Uber offers drivers a fast-track system instead that authorises drivers in less than a week for just $20 and includes criminal and traffic conviction checks.

A government review on new rules for passenger services such as taxis, shuttles, and ridesharing apps has proposed treating them all alike but required drivers to still hold a P endorsement, which includes a police check.

Uber is still lobbying hard for a change, arguing the existing P-endorsement process is a relatively small fixed cost for full-time commercial drivers but is a disproportionately massive fixed cost for private drivers providing ancillary rides.

"Unnecessary imposts will fundamentally limit the supply of partners and make ridesharing unviable," it said in a submission to the inquiry.

The ridesharing service has operated in New Zealand since 2014 and now claims 2,000 active driver partners and 150,000 active riders with 93 per cent of trips having a wait time of under 10 minutes.

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