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New Zealand Police target Uber for taxi metering

Two Auckland Uber drivers are being charged for calculating fares on their smartphones.

By Sophie Lowery  Saturday 10 Jan 2015 6:17 p.m

Uber, the app that links drivers to passengers wanting a ride, must use a set fare and can’t use a taxi meter system.

But the company that runs the smartphone app is claiming one particular police officer is taking an unnecessarily hard line against its drivers.

Carl Thompson is a regular user of Uber. It’s cheap, easy and supposed to be über-cool. But today it wasn’t. His journey was cut abruptly short.

A police officer pulled over Mr Thompson’ Uber taxi for allegedly operating a meter illegally.

3 News knows of at least one other case like Mr Thompson’ from today.

In a statement Uber said: “In recent weeks, a police officer in Auckland has targeted Uber partners in order to […] issue fines claiming that the iPhone is being used as a taxi meter.

“This officer’s actions have also put riders at risk when he ordered them to vacate the vehicles, leaving them stranded at night with no other travel options to get home.”

Uber says it’s filed complaints with the Independent Police Conduct Authority for the behaviour it describes as potentially dangerous and unacceptable. It’s also alerted the New Zealand Transport Agency and the Minister for Transport.

But a police spokesperson told 3 News the New Zealand Transport Agency says for Uber to operate legally in New Zealand a set fare or hourly rate must be agreed on at the start of the trip.

If it’s not, and the GPS on the app is used as a meter, the driver can face a fine of up to $2000 under the Land Transport Act.

Uber’s not allowed to use meters because it’s a private hire service, not a taxi company.

Uber has run into regulatory trouble and controversy in the United States and other countries. During the Sydney siege, Uber reportedly increased fares by as much as four times its normal rate when demand peaked as people rushed to leave the city.

But it’s not enough to put off big Uber fans like Mr Thompson.

Read article on the 3 news website with video report:

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