Taxi drivers stop early to avoid fee

ANNA PEARSON
Last updated 05:00 19/07/2014

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Taxi drivers are flouting a new drop-off tax at Christchurch Airport by dropping people off before the airport's entrance, a cabbie says.

The claim comes after a survey by an Auckland firm showed the city's taxis topped the list as the most expensive in the world when it came to trips from the airport to the city.

The survey, conducted by Digital Hothouse on June 28, was done before Christchurch Airport dropped its pick-up fee for taxi operators from $10 to about $5 on July 1.

When the airport halved the pick-up fee, it also introduced a drop-off fee: $4.78 excluding GST.

Now some taxi drivers, determined to get around it, are dropping passengers off before the airport, a cabbie told The Press.

Robert, who did not want his last name used, said he sometimes dropped customers off in Memorial Ave, Orchard Rd or at the Sudima Hotel.

"As soon as [passengers] find out there is a fee, they say, ‘Drop us off and we will walk the rest of the way'.

"There are other [drivers] doing it too," he said.

He was aware he risked losing his licence to operate within the airport, but said his customers came first.

"When they tell me they want to go around the roundabout six times, I will. If they say, ‘I want to go to 204 Colombo St', you do not go to 172."

Christchurch Airport chief commercial officer Blair Forgie said the airport was not aware of any drivers dropping passengers off before the airport's entrance despite having "huge support from, and regular discussion with, the various taxi operators".

"All taxi operators are required to be licensed to do business here and . . . there is enforcement around that to keep both drivers and customers safe," Forgie said.

The fees covered amenities for taxi operators, including a waiting area, a new toilet block and queuing and call-up technology, he said.

Digital Hothouse's survey found Christchurch to have the highest average taxi fare in dollars per kilometre in the world at NZ$4.50 a kilometre or $45 for 10km, closely followed by Queenstown at NZ$4.38 a kilometre.

A fairer assessment of the cost for a trip from the airport to the city now, with the fee changes added in, is about $40 a trip.

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- The Press

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