Foss orders review of regs restraining Uber

Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss has told NBR he has instructed officials to review the regulatory framework for small passenger services in response to queries about the status of private car hire company Uber.

The app-fuelled service has fallen foul of the New Zealand Transport Agency and the police in recent weeks, prompting Act leader David Seymour to call for reform of the sector to enable such services to operate unmolested.

“The government is a strong supporter of innovations that enable all New Zealanders and businesses in New Zealand, traditional or otherwise, to enjoy the benefits of new technology,” Mr Foss tells NBR.

“We aim to ensure New Zealand’s regulatory environment is both fit for purpose and flexible enough to accommodate new technologies.

Mr Foss says he understands a range of taxi companies and hire care services, including Uber, provide booking apps and that “these apps are broadly compatible with the current law, provided there is a clear distinction between a taxi and a private hire service.”

Late last year Mr Foss met with key players in the taxi and private hire service industries. 

“There are a range of views that need to be taken into account and a number of implications to consider,” he says. “I have asked officials to conduct a review of the regulatory framework for small passenger services.

 “Any change to legislation would include a consultation process.”

The review is due to be completed by the middle of this year.

Mr Foss’ instigation of a review process comes as Uber steps up its campaign for legislative reform, emailing its users and urging them to contact Mr Foss as the minister in charge of the relevant regulations and express their support for the service.

The current crackdown, the newsletter says “have been based on the NZTA's narrow interpretation of legislation created at a time when technology like Uber's didn't exist.

“Vested interests have also been spreading misinformation designed to scare riders and bully drivers to protect a small group of large and powerful taxi incumbents.”

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