An Invercargill taxi operator is quibbling at legislation he says will stop him from transporting people with disabilities in his newest van.
Stewart Anderson, with his wife Ann, runs 10 vehicles under contract to Blue Star Taxis using the company name Andcabs.
But rules stipulating a guard rail be fixed to the interior of the van to protect passengers who sit in one seat and the fact it can only carry nine passengers and the driver if it has a tow ball fitted, threatened to make the latest addition to his fleet a white elephant, he said.
Mr Anderson told The Southland Times yesterday he and his wife bought the 12-seater 2006 Toyota Hiace van for $44,000 and had since spent an additional $1000 installing a meter and communications radio, and $600 on decals and company logos for the vehicle's exterior.
The main reason for buying the large van was because the rear was roomy, meaning people with disabilities could get into and out of seats easily, Mr Anderson said.
But for the vehicle to pass its inspection to carry passengers a single seat on the left side of the van has to have a partition or guard rail installed in front of it.
The Vehicle Inspections Requirements Manual prepared by the New Zealand Transport Agency says the partition or guard rail is needed to protect the passenger in case of an accident or abrupt stop.
Mr Anderson said his taxis often carried passengers from Ruru School – some with significant physical disabilities and the addition of the partition would constrict space and make the van unusable for some clients.
The tow ball regulations, which were based on loading requirements and weight issues, were also a nonsense, he said.
The tow ball meant the van could carry only 10 people even when it was not towing anything.
The fact he could not get the vehicle on the road yesterday caused controversy at the Invercargill-branch of VTNZ.
Mr Anderson said he was under pressure, having taken on the contract to provide a courtesy coach to the Invercargill Workingmen's Club from this afternoon.
VTNZ Invercargill and Gore station manager Peter Ackroyd said while he sympathised with Mr Anderson's predicament, his vehicle inspectors' hands were tied and they could not bend the rules to accommodate him.
A national VTNZ spokeswoman said it was possibly a case of the Andersons being caught out by not checking the rules.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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