Council fees may push up taxi fares

KATIE CHAPMAN
Last updated 05:00 21/02/2013

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Cabbies may have to pay to use taxi ranks as Wellington City Council looks to save ratepayers' money.

But taxis warn that the cost would just end up being passed to passengers.

A proposal to charge taxis for using city stands is among ideas mooted by council officers for inclusion in the draft Annual Plan, which sets the city's budget and rates take.

Councillors will debate the draft next month before the final version is sent out for public consultation.

Andy Foster, transport portfolio leader, confirmed the idea had been raised by council officers as a way to combat falling parking revenue, but said the idea had come from "left field".

"Officers have briefed us on a whole range of propositions . . . These are officers' ideas for ways to save money."

The details of the taxi proposal were yet to be worked through, but it would probably be a system where "per vehicle you pay to have the right to use a taxi stand", he said.

"It was a bit of a left-field idea. It comes from parking revenue being down."

Council spokesman Richard MacLean said the idea was at an "embryonic stage".

"It involves the possibility of some sort of annual fee for taxi drivers to use taxi stands."

The level of fees had not been worked through yet, he said.

"It was put to the councillors as just a very early proposition for the annual plan. Part of the rationale is cab drivers are getting to park for free, where other motorists have to pay."

Green Cabs operator Callum Brown said yesterday that passengers would be the ones picking up the bill, not taxis.

"It's ridiculous, and unfortunately the simple fact of it is the public will end up paying for it."

Taxi drivers did not make big enough margins to be able to absorb the cost. "Anything like this just ends up being reflected in the fares."

There would also be safety concerns for the public, as taxis might shun ranks in a bid to avoid fees, making it more difficult for people to find a taxi late at night.

Mr Foster emphasised that it was very early days in the annual plan process, with the final document not due for adoption until June.

"The concept is the first thing to talk about."

PLAN PROCESS

The council has begun work on its draft Annual Plan, which sets the budget for 2013-14.

Officers suggest a budget, which councillors will debate with the plan next month, before sending the finalised draft out for public consultation.

After public hearing, the council will re-debate the plan in June before adopting the final budget that month.

The Annual Plan also sets the rates take – and any increase – for the next financial year.

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- The Dominion Post

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