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Ride Sharing & Fare Evasion – Land Transport Amendments

The Government has introduced this years Land Transport Amendment Bill, they say it will

  • Introduce new requirements that will apply to all small passenger services, by removing outdated provisions and by catering for the use of new technologies that facilitate such services
  • Make the alcohol interlock programme mandatory for repeat and serious first time drink-driving offenders
  • Increase penalties for fleeing drivers, or those who fail or refuse to provide information that may lead to the identification of fleeing drivers
  • Include new provisions to help limit fare evasion on public transport
  • Update the Act’s requirements relating to heavy vehicles to complement the new Land Transport (Vehicle Dimensions and Mass) Rule 2016
  • Make miscellaneous changes to various Act provisions to make them more workable.

I will mostly focus on the Small Passenger Services changes & the changes regarding Fare Evasion.

 

Fare Evasion

Last September Simon Bridges indicated that in the next bill he wanted to crack down on Fare Evaders on PT network, he said he believed it was costing $2m a year, and up to 5% of passengers were fare evading in Auckland.

Simon Bridges - fare evasion

The new bill will give Enforcement Officers new powers

  • To require passengers to show evidence they have paid for fare.
  • To require passengers who cannot show evidence of paying fare to provide contact details including Name, Address, and DOB.
  • To order removal of passenger from PT service who cannot provide evidence of paying fare.
  • The ability for them, or the body responsible for them to issue infringement notices for failing to pay a fare.

The Enforcement Officers will be warranted by Commissioner of Police, who can remove warrant if powers misused. The Enforcement Officers will not have the power of arrest beyond the scope of the Crimes Act 1961 which applies to all persons.

Penalties

  • An infringement fee of $150, or upon Conviction $500 for failure to pay for fare.
  • Any failure to comply with any legal orders given by Enforcement Officers will upon Conviction face a fine of $1000.

There is some defenses to the act, for example if the ticket machine is not working, the guidance also states the Enforcement Officers have the discretion to grant warnings, or to simply ask passenger to pay ticket. I think this is really good, many of us have probably forgotten to tag on once in awhile not because we are Fare Evaders, but simply in hurry, didn’t tag on properly, or just plain forgot, its only human. Also I have seen many tourists, both from rest of NZ or Overseas who have not understood the system, so I hope the Officers do show some discretion. Many of us have also dealt with broken Ticket Machines.

Basically the main difference between is now only the Police can do the above, now ticket inspectors who are warranted will be able to do the same.

They say these changes are necessary because gating is very hard to do for all stations & has a high CAPEX/OPEX cost associated with it.

Another question will be will AT only ask Ticket Inspectors to be warranted, or will they also have the TM’s warranted.

Small Passenger Services

In 2015 the Government had public submissions on changes to the Small Passenger Services, which I believed I submitted on as a Private Individual. The suggested changes were in response to the rise of Uber & other Ride Sharing companies whose operations were legally ambiguous. Simon Bridges wanted to update the regulations to provide legal clarity regarding these companies, while also simplifying the current system. The MOT believes the new system will “Deliver benefits through more competition, allow flexibility to accommodate new technologies, and will enable transport operators to make their own business decisions on a range of issues, while the system will regulate to provide the fundamental safety requirements.”

The definition of a Small Passenger Service is “Anyone carrying passengers for hire or reward, in a vehicle designed to carry twelve or fewer people (including the driver) is operating a small passenger service.”

The Changes are

  • Removal of signage requirements.
  • An area knowledge certificate (Outdated now we have GPS)
  • Removal of requirement to complete a P endorsement course, however will still need to display driver identification card, as well as complete police check.
  • Removal of requirement to complete a Full Licence test every 5 years.
  • Removal of requirement to belong to approved taxi organisation.
  • Removal of requirement to operate service 24/7.
  • Removal of requirement to have certificate of knowledge of law & practice.
  • Removal of requirement to have driver panic alarm.
  • Creation of a Small Passenger Service Licence replacing Passenger Service License.

Drivers will still need follow within work time limits, and either as or under a person/organisation holding a Small Passenger Service Licence.

Vehicles will still need to have a Certificate of Fitness as well as in the 18 urban areas be fitted with a camera, however exemptions are

  1. Providing services to registered passengers only.
  2. Driver and passenger information (e.g. names and photographs of both driver and passenger) is available.
  3. Driver and passenger information is available before each trip.
  4. A record of each trip is available (e.g. GPS records).

Carpooling Services i.e. Apps that connect people for carpooling which is different from Uber will also be subject to different rules, for example the third-party providing must have a Small Passenger Service Licence however the drivers don’t need to meet the requirements of a Small Passenger Services driver.

So what do you think about the changes?

51 comments to Ride Sharing & Fare Evasion – Land Transport Amendments

  • jjay

    I cry at this – doing this with a small child who I need to carry often, 2 bags and often gumboots or something too tagging on and off is often hard – I have missed tagging off because of this (and there is the bus waiting for me to try and get it right). I have even tried the tagging off just before my stop (standing up while bus is moving with small person is not easy but I am mindful I hold the bus up) – I tried that the other day with a tantruming toddler and just could not see nor hear the ticket machine properly so waved my card across it a second time to be sure- and what happened was my card got charged the fare (first time it worked) AND a penalty fare on top. I emailed AT and got a refund and a stern lecture on how it was my responsibility to tag off properly – it was humiliating. Anyway the idea that now I could be charged $150 for this reduces me to tears literally especially to then be left at the mercy of someones discretion. I am not trying to rort the system – I never have and never will and it is not easy sometimes to use the PT system in the way I do – I really really hope they are kind on this.

    • Sailor Boy

      That sucks that you feel so rushed/ pressured. Surely the public and driver could understand the tiny amount of extra time associated with traveling with a toddler!!

      • Harriet

        I hope the guidance is implemented by AT which will see the inspectors not giving the fine in every situation.

        TBH I hope the more important powers used are identification, easier trespass, and fines for non compliance with the above.

        • jjay

          You have not met my toddler (2 good PT users but number 3 does not like the commute – which to be fair is worse than it was when the older ones did it and she gets travel sick too). The drivers are pretty good really, this new lot make a huge effort to be friendly (even if there are some glitches in the system) but its simply not fair to hold a bus up for 30-60 s – and believe me that is not unusual co-ordinating everything especially if one of those things has a will of their own. I try my best not to put others out. The system itself especially the tagging off (and a range of other things I did not find accessibility friendly) just make a bit of a battle with the other constraints I have – and I would not be the only one facing those for sure and many others face worse barriers. I would love for their to be a forum for people to provide feedback on the accessibleness of PT to AT and for AT to listen and feedback into their systems and service providers (so for e.g. ask them to be flexible in issuing of fines and explain the issues some people have etc but also lots of other things to cater for various needs). For e.g. those little green glowing buttons – I know people that don’t see when they glow and can’t tell when to hit them to get the train doors open, I have seen someone struggle to do that while a guard watched – that person had to get off at the next stop. Anyway my end this makes me more stressed worried and tired by the whole thing – and hoping perhaps teleportation will be a future option !

    • Nick R

      You won’t be charged for failing to tag off, just the penalty fare, but you could be fined if you don’t tag on at all.

      • Maybe that technically it’s not a fine but it’s called a penalty fare.

        There’s another gotcha for people with wheelchairs or prams. On older buses sometimes you have to get on via the back door because there’s no room to get on in the front. However you can’t tag on in the back. Not all drivers are aware of this. If you try, you will get 2 penalty fares (once when you tagged “on”, and when you tagged off). In that case you could also get a fine when an inspector comes by.

        So, how to tag on at the front door and then get on the bus via the back door?

        Tagging is not 100% reliable, sometimes you have to try a couple of times before the machine succeeds. I’ve seen a couple of times that the machine would show a failure on the first try, and then it would tell me that I’ve already tagged of on the second try. I don’t think I got a penalty fare. A penalty fare for tagging off a second time, that’s new to me. Maybe it got introduced when the integrated fares were rolled out.

        Failing to handle double transactions gracefully, given that tagging is not 100% reliable, that’s a really basic design error. I wonder how long it will take before that gets fixed.

        • Harriet

          Hopefully a lot of the older buses will go as part of the New Network PTOM contracts, nearly 50% of the Southern Network Buses are brand new for example.

          • jjay

            Yes lots of the buses we got seem new – TVs and USB chargers but so far 2 of my regular apparently “brand new” buses – without openable windows have had non working air conditioning ……..in the first case it works REALLY hard and makes a lot of noise but cant really cool in the second case it does not work at all – the bus driver apologised and looked v. sweaty himself but it was an incredibly uncomfortable trip – I thought both times I would pass out acutally – and the toddler was quite sweaty – not sure why the new buses have these issues (maybe its nearly new ? or refurbished ?) but my point is the new ones are not problem free it seems.

          • Sailor Boy

            There’s a fundamental difference between broken air conditioning and buying the wrong bus: only one can be fixed at the next regular service.

          • jjay

            hmm if it can and does get fixed ……..if not then it is actually a huge issue ……..

          • jjay

            but yes I will agree it should in theory be easier to repair part of a bus that has the right set-up than actually try and make one that does not fit for purpose ……..however some of the old buses had things going for them that made it easier too (well I found so personally – others were a bit of a mission -those with stairs spring to mind)…..however overall new busses generally are built more with accessibility in mind ………but if the new ones have ongoing issues with certain things needing repair a lot (and it is concerning for a new bus or 2 new buses out of the 4 or 5 that I probably ride that route on to have issues already and one more than once) then that’s something to consider – but not from a fare evasion point of view for sure but def from passenger experience (and indeed health and safety for the driver too). Perhaps its just a glitch and coincidence though – but sure when you buy new busses (like buying a car too) you want something reliable as well as with the right set-up for your needs.

        • Nick R

          Sure but the penalty fare is only $20, while the fine for travelling without paying is $150 apparently. There is a difference there, not tagging off is paying, but paying the wrong amount. It only needs a small penalty to stop people rorting the system day to day.

          Not tagging on is simply travelling without paying at all, which is called stealing in any other context. In a system where it is pretty easy to steal that obviously needs a significant fine for the risks of being caught to outweigh the benefits.

          You can tag on at the back, it happens routinely on the NEX, but I suppose the driver has to enable something on their console?

          I don’t think there is such a thing as a penalty fare for tagging on a second time. Actually it should be impossible to get a penalty fare or any fare while the card is tagged off. To get two penalty fares in a row you would have to tag on, fail to tag off, wait over an hour, then tag on a new service somewhere else, then fail to tag off a second time.

          As for the “already tagged off” thing, this happens to me a lot. Its actually the tag reader being to fast. It tags you off properly then immediately cycles again and tells you you’re already tagged off. One simple solution to that would be for the readers to flash green and make the ‘success’ beep if you are already tagged off, rather than red and the ‘error’ beep.

          • jjay

            Well it happened to me – normally you do get a this card is already tagged off. This time I tagged off while standing waiting to get to my stop – was not sure I tagged off so did it again and saw it worked but was the wrong amount – worked out later from looking at transactions it was indeed charged for fare (tag on/off) and then a penalty. FYI I was using the back HOP Card reader when I did this. I had never come across it before – never thought it was possible either hence why if I am in doubt and cannot hear or see properly I tend to wave my card across it again just to be sure I tagged off. It happened since the roll over and on the new buses not sure if that makes a difference but definitely did happen and I wrote to AT and I got a refund in the end along with a lecture about how it was my responsibility to tag off correctly so this was a once-off refund, I did not get any explanation as to why it happened nor did I get any surprise it did happen (well they will be able to see my transactions etc for my card as its registered). All I can say is when I tagged off it was no immediately after the first tag off there was a lag- more like passed bus stop mine is next stand up try and sort tagging off and tantrum of doom at same time – hmmm not sure it worked shivers nearly at stop now try again in a hurry as I leave. So normally if I tag off twice its bingbing – that was the only thing I could think of.

        • bjfoe

          I’ve been told that’s the least of the problems with prams. Most of the buses don’t kneel, health and safety is invoked if help is sought getting a pram up the steps, and then the mother is instructed to fold down the pram before boarding even though the infant is safer in than out.

          • jjay

            Strollers is an area I have experience with (I never go near PT with an actual pram if I can help it). Yes don’t ask for help, most times you won’t get it and you might get some firm looks or words when asking, I found that particularly on trains but the newer electric trains do make that easier to do it yourself most times. Best strategy for strollers is get the smallest one you can possibly use, that you can lift with your child in, make it able to be folded as easily as possible (generally one-handed) and also think of one you can carry with your child and bags. I find that those ones are often a bit short for me but live with that in order to get the other features. I have a cheapie but there are a few that do supercompact folding not sure how easy to fold or safe. As for folding down, there have been a number of articles reporting this, from personal experience I’d say it varies; yes on busy PT bus and with certain drivers it will happen but often I found drivers pragmatic and if nice natured and the bus is not crammed they will let you keep it intact (helps if you have regular drivers). In the end with the last child I decided to go sans stroller and develop a decent bicep for the walk each end. I find having a stroller limits flexibility (e.g. restricts PT modes, for transfers it becomes more of a pain than an asset, if you do have to fold it down then it becomes a forth thing to carry AND tag off with and mines too short). I did wonder (even asked NZTA once) if having your child in a stroller was safer than having them on your lap on PT (response was buses are bigger and crash less), someone I know was told by a guard she was putting her kids at risk by travelling with them on the train (not sure why though). I would be interested to know if anyone has stats on relative risks of sitting v in stroller.

  • Sailor Boy

    I’m very happy they are expanding alcohol inter locks, very disappointed they are removing compulsory relicensing for passenger services. I think we need to expand it to all drivers.

    • Harriet

      Agree completely.

    • Jon_k

      Retesting would be interesting. I think that if you wish to carry passengers for income, then testing is a must to ensure a modicum of probability that you can actually drive – Though, having said that I do have to wonder how many of the folks on the road actually got their license in the first place.

      I used to drive a lot as part of my job… Certain times of day were to be avoided not because of traffic, but because of increased incidence of poor driving skill.

    • Josh

      Disagree with licencing, just increases the costs to the operator. Either the driver has to take the hit (cost), or has to pass onto the passengers. Plus Uber drivers are generally sooo much nicer and better than traditional taxi drivers in my experience, most likely cause trying to get good ratings and not loose fare from customer complaints, that anything to encourage services like these makes sense.

  • nonsense

    they need to put bigger signs to remind ppl to tag on. and more tag on machines.

    • Alex

      More Tag on Machines at the right place (right next to the exit). Its not so bad, but just annoying. The tag machine in Remuera is the most annoying. It forces you to walk few meters just to tag on/off. Why could they move this closer to the pedestrian bridge?

  • Brendan

    Given that HOP does not give you a paper receipt, how are passengers able show evidence they have paid for fare? Does everyone have to have a smart phone handy and log into the HOP website and show their transaction log?

  • curiouskiwicat

    I wonder what existing requirements remain for drivers of a Small Passenger Service?

    Being required to belong to an approved taxi organization and certificate of knowledge and practice can help to deal with rogue operators out to scam people. There’s a reason they had those rules. What’s to stop rogue operators coming in to the field now?

    The obvious solution is to keep the Approved Organization rule in there, with a more flexible framework in which organizations are approved and how they can choose to implement driver+rider safety precautions, and allow organizations like Uber to apply to be an Approved Organization. That gives the authorities the ability to consider Uber safety features like their ratings system, GPS tracking, ability to deactivate drivers with a history of customer abuse, etc, when they accept the Approved Organization application, and at the same time be flexible to the new commercial paradigm Uber runs within. I worry the new rules would be too permissive to drivers operating on their own without any safety system in place at all.

  • Andrew

    $2 million a year? Surely gating more platforms will pay for itself in a few fares by cutting the amount in rail fare evasion…

    • Harriet

      The gates are really expensive, are on huge backorder, and require staff to make help people with accessibility issues & to deter gate jumpers.

      Also most trips on the network begin/end at a station with gating/proposed gating the BCR of gating fare evaders on suburban-suburban trips isn’t worth it.

      Henderson needs upgrading & gates though tbh

      • JimboJones

        I don’t remember staff being at all gates in London – but almost all stations did have gates.
        But I actually think the whopping fine approach is much more sensible.

        • Mike (the longstanding one)

          In Britain there have to be staff in attendance at gated stations for the gates to be operational – otherwise people could get trapped. If there are no staff in attendance any gates must be left open.

          I presume that a similar protocol exists in Auckland.

        • Adam W

          There are indeed people on all gates in London, take Kings Cross for example which I used regularly – the gate was left open after 10pm because of lower staffing levels.

          • Nick R

            Same in Melbourne, they leave the gates open if the station is unstaffed (i.e. after about 10pm) however you are still required to tag on and off (although I guess many dont). The gates there will close on someone with a bike, pram or pulling a suitcase, plus I imagine its a requirement for health and safetly and evacuations.

      • Dgd

        I’d get those 3 gates at the east end of New Lynn station removed to Henderson, close that exit/entrance at New Lynn as its unmanned anyway then perhaps reopen when there are gates available again. Although not before Glen Eden is also gated.
        The Ranui-Henderson-Glen Eden free trains seem quite popular after 10am to about 1pm

      • Yes I don’t think we should get carried away with too much gating. One aspect that is a pain and I often forget to be ready for it coming from a quite suburban station is if you have young children you suddenly have to awkwardly tag them on/or hand them the card and quickly explain what to do and push them through the gate etc at Britomart while stampede of people follow you from behind. Perhaps it’s better to let them through the cash gate and tag their cards for them but that would mean explaining staff what you are going etc. Anyone have suggestions, haven’t really tried anything else?
        Re fare evaders, I’ve noticed a few times late Sat or Sun afternoons seems to be a favourite time on the southern line for that rag bags to make their way south station by station from the quiet Remuera, Greenlane, Penrose stations, often getting kicked off. Quite entertaining, seems staff are on to this more and looking out for them at this time. Some of these quieter stations and Sylvia Park could do with more than one or two tag machine too, closer to the stairs, less likely to forget and can be a bit of a queue during a spurt of extra activity.

  • Alistair Gunn

    I miss a Tagon or. Tag off at least once a month. I only know by looking back at the transactions. And no toddler to handicap me. And I would swear I was paying attention. So min 6 times a year I am at risk of a huge fine. Grrr.

  • Waspman

    Gate the bloody network, the whole network or bring back fare collection on the trains. This CAPEX/OPEX excuse is all very sensible because it’s funded by the bottomless pit called rates and it’s just too hard to be a real passenger railway and so much easier be bumbling amateurs. The CAPEX to electrify Auckland’s network was massive, why did we not shy away from that either, was it because we took a long-term view?

    Which runs on to my next point, 5% fare evasion is complete bullshit (is that a focused grouped accepted figure?) and anyone who has had anything to do with Auckland’s train services and their honesty fare system knows it. I mean how many honesty systems in a low law enforcement, semi dishonest country like this suffers a mere 5% evasion, it’s a biblical miracle. Why even bother changing the law in that case? And I am led to believe ticket inspectors aren’t working the complete timetables anyway.

    Honest to God, when you let idiots ride the trains for free, you get problems, damage and loss.

    And finally does this budget police officer experiment allow such staff to use reasonable force to remove evaders, how will they demand and verify a persons details without a data base or acceptable ID and will they carry weaponry to protect themselves in confrontations? It is no good unless those enforcing the law can do so effectively, meaningfully and safely. What should happen is sufficient funding for Transit Police but it’s not likely with our current cut price government!

  • Ian

    I must be honest – how hectic is your life that you miss a tag on/off? Delay the bus while you fumble with everything. Nobody reasonable is going to get angry at someone making an honest effort.

    I haven’t tagged on a few times. Once in support of the H&E bus drivers, and twice when my station wasn’t allowing anyone to tag on and the paper ticket machine was also disconnected from the network (which would have been a ripoff anyway). If I got questioned on that, I’d just ask them how many passengers from that station they’d dealt with who had the same issue.

    • Nick R

      Yes I must admit this seems like a storm in a teacup, I use transit about twenty times a week and have only had a problem once with a broken card reader. It isn’t that hard, certainly no harder than using eftpos, using a key to get in the front door of your house, opening a car, or buying a litre of milk with a $20 note.

      Sure some people take a bit longer, I sure do when I have bags of groceries in both hands or are wrangling a backpack and gym bag at the same time.

      • Alistair Gunn

        Have just looked back my transactions. Yep there is one unpaired tag off. This is retrospective. Brain fade? Distraction in the crowd. Mistook the beep from the reader next to mine sigh? Whatever the reason 150$ seems like a high penalty for an inadvertent lapse. Being lectured by at is hardly better

        • Nick R

          You won’t get a $150 fine for not tagging off, at worst you get the $20 penalty fare. The $150 fine is for getting on without paying in anyway, i.e. not tagging on or not having a paper ticket and one hopes, not having a valid excuse like a broken machine or faulty card. You would hope that they could see your history of constantly using it properly but making an honest mistake once, and let you off with a warning or perhaps just paying the fare. Likewise if the machine is broken (which I have experienced), that should be easy to reconcile.

          • Bryce P

            Failing to tag off is now just a 3 zone penalty fare since the new simpler fares came in ( as I understand it). That is $4.90 for adults and $2.72 for children.

          • jjay

            Yes it is $4.90 now – exactly what I was charged – $6 for the trip then $4.90 penalty as well (thats what flagged me as odd
            why did my trip cost $4.90 when it was meant to be $6 – ohh thats the new penalty cost!).

  • Alistair Gunn

    Have just looked back my transactions. Yep there is one unpaired tag off. This is retrospective. Brain fade? Distraction in the crowd. Mistook the beep from the reader next to mine sigh? Whatever the reason 150$ seems like a high penalty for an inadvertent lapse. Being lectured by at is hardly better

  • Jeff T

    Tagged on at the gates at Britomart recently and realised my balance was too low. Then went back and put some credit on my card. Then went back to gate and tagged on and thought ‘where did my new balance go?’ Realised I would have incurred a penalty for not logging off first.

    How about some posts just for customers to check their balances as well as the tagg on/offs and payment machines?

  • kris

    I thinking the following should remain under the Act –

    – Removal of signage requirements.

    Not happy about this. How will a passenger know what is a rouge or legitimate driver. The taxi companies will keep their sign for public confidence.

    – An area knowledge certificate (Outdated now we have GPS)

    Taxi drivers I have spoken with, say this is still important as GPS does not give you the shortest route options plus it leaves it open to rip off un-expected consumers,

    – Removal of requirement to complete a P endorsement course, however will still need to display driver identification card, as well as complete police check.

    I this see the course important as the course covers defensive driving, law. etc.

    What about annual medical?

    – Removal of requirement to belong to approved taxi organisation.

    I think should read as an approved licenced transport operation

    – Removal of requirement to operate service 24/7.

    – Removal of requirement to have driver panic alarm.

    This is is needed for driver safety coupled with the security camera.

  • I can’t speak for Auckland, but in Welly, the first time I used the train I was very surprised (given the investment in the new Matangi EMUs) to find that many suburban stations have neither fare gates, nor ticket machines nor staff on hand to purchase a ticket before travel. The staff on-board were friendly and helpful but when the trains are busy or people only travelling a few stops it could easily be impossible to buy a ticket for a journey, and be an *involuntary* fare evader – utterly crazy. Even Wellington station itself doesn’t have fare gates. How much revenue is this costing Metlink? Surely putting ticket machines at all stations, and fare gates at the busiest ones, makes financial sense?

    • The Wellington system is still paper based at the moment, their tickets wouldn’t work in any gates, it’s what the Auckland system was like up until 2012. It is surprising how far behind Wellington has got for a city that prided itself on having the best PT in NZ. Christchurch has had a smart card since 2003, and Auckland (traditionally a laggard) has had one across all services since 2014.

      • Mike (the longstanding one)

        Public transport in NZ is a game of leapfrog. Christchurch led with card-based fare payment, but by modern standards that system is a long way short of smart. Wellington then introduced Snapper, and we all know the history of that, leaving Auckland with a dumb system. Auckland has now put itself in the vanguard, but AT Hop is no longer up with the pack, where for instance contactless and phone payments are essentials.

        All these developments have passed Wellington trains by, which is why they still use Edmondson card tickets, invented in the 1830s (not a typo).

        One of these days/months/years, smart ticketing will arise on Wellington rails, by which time Auckland will probably be lagging again. And sometime in the future Christchurch will also get 21st century ticketing!

  • Chris Randal

    I wonder how many TIs will be brave enough (or stupid enough) to take on the yobs of South Auckland

    • I imagine there will be a new job description with more of an enforcement angle. Over time they will hire people more suited to this, the inspectors I’ve seen in Sydney and Melbourne have no trouble taking on their yobs.

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