Compulsory Taxi Cameras

March 31st, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Transport Minister is pushing for security cameras in all city and the taxi federation hopes they will be in place by the middle of next year.

announced this morning that he would put to Cabinet the recommendation in May.

The move follows recent attacks on taxi drivers: on Saturday, two men held a knife to an Auckland cabbie’s throat for $30 in coins, and in January driver Hiren Mohini was stabbed to death in Mt Eden for a $15.20 fare.

Many Auckland cabbies have since said that they are now scared to work at night.

NZ Taxi Federation executive director Tim Reddish said the federation had been pushing for a Government mandate for security cameras for three years.

“We’re just delighted to achieve our objective and the fact that it will save lives,” Mr Reddish said.

If the recommendations gets through Cabinet, he expects the first cameras would be installed toward the end of the year and be complete by the middle of 2011, Mr Reddish said.

He expected a 24-hour distress alarm – that would let cabbies call for help – would also be part of the new legislation.

I’m confused.

The taxi federation say they are delighted and have been advocating cameras for years, as a safety measure.

So why haven’t they just gone ahead and done it themselves?

Why in God’s name do we need a special law for this?

It is a good idea to get the support of the Minister, sure. But why not just have the Minister write a letter to all taxi companies saying he supports cameras in cars.

Mr Joyce said the industry would pay for the cameras – a cost expected to increase fares by about 30 cents.

So why would individual taxi firms not decide to do this for themselves, without coercion? Wouldn’t drivers be demanding cameras be placed in their cars if the cost averages out to only 30c a trip.

And even if a few companies don’t implement cameras, then their drivers can choose to work for another company.

It’s sad that the NZ Taxi Federation thinks it needs a law passed, to be able to put security cameras into cars. Why don’t they just get on and do it.

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30 Responses to “Compulsory Taxi Cameras”

  1. NOt1tocommentoften (436 comments) says:

    So why haven’t they just gone ahead and done it themselves?

    Maybe DPF because some taxi companies are not part of the taxi federation and continue to refuse to install cameras voluntarily, notwithstanding the risks to their drivers. Unfortunately thre is little benefit for these companies’s profit lines in doing so and that is their primary concern.

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  2. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    As usual, Crampton nails it here and here.

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  3. Rich Prick (1,542 comments) says:

    The companies generally do not own the cars, they are owned by the operator. The operators were free to make whatever security arrangments they felt appropriate. I think this is a product of years of being told what to do and relying on the Government to hold our hands. It makes me cringe.

    Can we now expect a law requiring security cameras in dairies?

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  4. Crampton (214 comments) says:

    My best guess: combination of relatively risk averse drivers from some companies trying to raise costs for other firms and the Federation seeking to limit the potential effect of jitney cabs during forthcoming Rugby World Cup.

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  5. ben (2,396 comments) says:

    Unfortunately thre is little benefit for these companies’s profit lines in doing so and that is their primary concern.

    Maybe so, but why would drivers – who must select which cab company to drive for – absent compensation choose a company that does not install cameras if cameras really do reduce risk? Either they really do make a difference, in which case you would not expect people to drive without them, or they do not, in which case the world is better without the expense of installing and maintaining them.

    Taxi companies must attract drivers in competition with other companies.

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  6. Jim (397 comments) says:

    I totally agree with DPF on this and always wondered why on earth the federation was waiting for it to be compulsory if it is such a good idea.

    So what if some companies don’t install them? The taxi federation can make its own rules, boot out those who don’t comply, and then brand federation cabs as safe and imply that others are all unsafe.

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  7. Brian Smaller (3,989 comments) says:

    So why would individual taxi firms not decide to do this for themselves, without coercion?

    Because they are like most NZers. Dumbed down to expect the government to do everything for them and make all their decisions. Still, it might reduce the number of rapes and sexual assaults committed against drunk women in Wellington by cabbies, inshallah.

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  8. Komata (1,109 comments) says:

    FWIW:

    Back in the 1980′s, I had cause to use taxi’s in Auckland very intensively for work-related transport and in the course of this use discussed the whole matter of driver-security with a large number of drivers. They were aware of the ptroblems, and had various solutions to it and ideas about how best to combat it , the most logical and reasonable one being the installation of a heavy-duty perspex shield across the back of the cab’s front seat, essentially compartmentalising the car into two sections – one for the driver, one for the passenger/s. Communication was via small-diameter holes drilled-through the screen, as is common in some financial and high-security establishments. The rear cab doors could be locked to prevent any malcontents escaping. The driver’s who had installed these devices in their cabs (at their own expense of course) were enthusiastic about them, feeling it gave greater security, esopecially from knives and arms across and around the throat.

    I rode in several vehicles so-equipped and once the initial closed-off sensation was overcome, the ride was no different from any other.

    HOWEVER, the Taxi Federation wasn’t having a bar of it, believing that it was too expensive, too difficult to install, that it would result in damage to the rear seats and cab interior, ‘cut off’ the driver’s communication with their passengers. and that, over-all it wasn’t a good idea. They actively discouraged the practice! The Taxi Fed’s solution was camera’s (as it is now) and a couple of cynics amongst the drivers I rode with, suggested that it was all very well having one’s picture taken and that of their assaliant, but by the time the cops and everyone else arrived to ‘help’, the cabby, now dead, would no longer be especially interested.

    Nice to see that the position of the NZ Taxi federation hasn’t changed – camera’s are all – except a solution to saving their driver’s lives.

    As I said, FWIW.

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  9. NOt1tocommentoften (436 comments) says:

    Maybe so, but why would drivers – who must select which cab company to drive for – absent compensation choose a company that does not install cameras if cameras really do reduce risk?

    Ben – have you ridden in a cab lately? The social demographic suggests that these people do not have a lot of choice who they work for. And unscrupulous operators don’t see any market based incentives in fitting their cabs out with cameras.

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  10. Jim (397 comments) says:

    Ah, silly me. Crampton’s take is indeed plausible. I stupidly assumed that the taxi federation were delighted about safety, but perhaps they are more delighted that they are imposing a cost on their opportunist competitors.

    Still, I would think the best way would be to put compulsion aside and brand the non-federated cabs as run by criminals for criminals. Too late…

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  11. Jenna R (27 comments) says:

    A less cynical take than Crampton’s is that it is just oligopoly behaviour. Maybe every taxi company wants to protect its drivers, but can’t unless everybody else does. The cost is so high that if one of the big companies does it they will have to put their prices up, while the others punish them for their responsible behaviour by keeping their own prices low.

    I don’t know if TaxiFed are so keen on cutting independent drivers out of the RWC; TaxiFed at least nominally represents members who are independent drivers as well as the big co-ops.

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  12. bearhunter (859 comments) says:

    I very much doubt this will add a mere 30 cents to each taxi fare. However, I am willing to try it. My regular cab company charges me $7.80 from the pub to my house or vice-versa, so I’ll be able to measure quite accurately what the real add-on will be. I presume I’ll be able to send the bill for the difference to either the Taxi Federation or Steven Joyce?

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  13. RRM (9,445 comments) says:

    Federation members kinda want to do it, but not enough to put themselves to the expense of it, unless there is compulsion (meaning competing non-members also will have to do it)?

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  14. djg (72 comments) says:

    Maybe some drivers don’t want a record kept of who they took, how much they charged, and how they were paid.

    It’s just a thought, no evidence to back it up of course.

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  15. Minnie (96 comments) says:

    There is also some reluctance from taxi federation members outside the larger centres to install cameras. Compulsion means increased expense on an already smaller income, and the drivers generally know already who the baddies are. Poor payers (runners) and those with a history just don’t get picked up.

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  16. Motella (9 comments) says:

    Yes this is another example of Nanny State, however what amuses me is the apparent blind acceptance by a fairly large group of “small business” owners that are happy to saddle one another with compulsion – incredible!

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  17. lyndon (330 comments) says:

    One could say some unparliamentary things abot Steven Joyce and ‘nanny-state’-ism, no?

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  18. bruceh (102 comments) says:

    I think Joyce is indeed a little addicted to Nanny state, content with headline solutions and the satisfaction of ‘having done something’, old style paternalistic adults micro-managing adults’

    Not much clarifying economics in the discussion so far, Crampton’s angles notwithstanding. Saying fittings cameras will add about 30c per ride illustrates this. In price adaptable markets you can’t possibly know this.

    Fitting a camera is a capital cost, the recovery of which is purely a pricing policy (aka ‘costs are facts, prices are a policy’). Normal competitive pressures and supply and demand opportunities over ride the luxury of a cost-plus mentality to capital add-on’s.

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  19. Manolo (13,357 comments) says:

    The aspiring tin-pot dictator Joyce strikes again! More legislation, more regulations, more nanny statism.

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  20. MT_Tinman (2,989 comments) says:

    As a working nightshift cabbie (owner/driver) I am disgusted by this move which will, among other things, see a dramatic increase in the cost of installing and maintaining security devices in taxis.

    I can see no benefit for any other industry including the taxi industry in this disgraceful move, after all banks, liquor shops, service stations and dairies still get robbed regularly despite having security cameras in place.

    I have no security camera in my car, do not want a security camera in my car and see no need for a security camera in my car.

    ….. but then I do try to be honest and friendly to my customers and probably don’t need such devices in the first place.

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  21. peterwn (3,157 comments) says:

    Why not buses too. Another driver was mugged for his cash box yesterday.

    I think the trouble that taxi operators have is that, while Co-op, Combined, Alert and other major companies would probably like to have cameras, the deadweight cost of the cameras would put them at a competitive disadvantage if the smaller operators do not require their drivers to install them. The cost of the cameras have to be met by the owner-drivers, and after espenses, the net earnings of a taxi owner-driver are probably not much better than the minimum wage.

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  22. Pongo (371 comments) says:

    Another case of Joyce being captured. we elected this government to eliminate the nanny state. If I am worried in my work environment I will put in the appropriate amount of security in place and if I was a taxi driver I would make my own choice (or my wife would) about the levels of security I need.
    Thank god Joyce isnt in charge of shower heads and light bulbs. Pathetic if you want NZ to have a step change get out of our lives and let us take personal responsibility. Why not just say if you want to be safer choose to install a camera.
    I give up, I might as well vote Labour and see what they will distribute to me from other taxpayers and leave the debt to my childrens offspring.

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  23. big bruv (13,277 comments) says:

    Tinman

    “….. but then I do try to be honest and friendly to my customers and probably don’t need such devices in the first place.”

    You left out the bit about them having to have a death wish and being certifiably fucking crazy to even contemplate the idea in your case :)

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  24. Storm (16 comments) says:

    Perhaps there are privacy issues behind this?

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  25. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    “Perhaps there are privacy issues behind this?”

    Yes.. I can see it being the new place for exhibitionists to get on camera.

    The makings of a new late night really show.. cabies could do well out of it.. if they hold the TV rights.

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  26. campit (462 comments) says:

    While we are talking about taxis:

    1) Its friggin hard to hail a cab. Even on Queen Street. Whats with that?
    2) That dinky little “for hire” light is bloody hard to see some nights.
    3) They’re expensive. Why can’t they offer a ride share option? Get a destination sign on the roof so someone else can hail the cab as well to halve the cost of the journey
    4) If they have shuttles to the airport, why don’t they have commuter shuttles to the CBD?

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  27. Rich Prick (1,542 comments) says:

    Expediency at the expense of liberty. If these guys wanted cameras they could have installed them in their own private property ie, their cars for the benefit which is only their safety (putting aside the only public benefit which is stopping taxi drivers raping their clients – well in Wellington at least).

    Now we pay for a capital investment as consumers for them to take thier own security steps. Nice way of raising capital without a prospectus, albeit a small sum. I’ll be looking for the driver without a camera nor the surcharge.

    Now, I have a place of business that needs a security upgrade, please legislate for it so I can pass on a charge to clients. That is a much easier justification for fee increases or wearing the cost of it to my own account. Cheers.

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  28. BlairM (2,286 comments) says:

    More Nanny State from Nanny Joyce. This is getting beyond ridiculous. It’s in the taxi drivers’ own interests to install cameras, so why make it compulsory?! It’s bizarre. He’s bizarre. He should not be a National MP, or a government minister.

    When you vote Labour, at least you know you are getting this sort of crap.

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  29. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    The government would be much better getting rid of all the crooks and refugess driving hacks in Auckland and Wellington.

    Corporate Cabs and maybe Co-Op are now the only companies i would travel in due to the standard of the drivers working for the companies being run out of garages in Mt Roskill.

    The drivers for the rat arse companies wont want the cameras, because putting the word on the working girls and strippers on the way home is a way of life for alot of these clowns – sex for rides its been going on for years, as well as drug dealing and the like.

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  30. Manolo (13,357 comments) says:

    “When you vote Labour, at least you know you are getting this sort of crap.”

    Dead right. With Labour-lite National you know you keep getting the same rubbish of the Clark years.
    The more things change, the more they remain the same.

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