Some good for/against arguments in this one! What do you think?
By STUART DYE transport reporter
Taxi drivers are calling for law changes to allow them to use bus lanes.
It would ease congestion and pave the way for a better taxi service, according to the Taxi Federation.
In Wellington, some concessions have been made with cabbies allowed to use parts of the bus lane network and having designated pick-up and drop-off spots.
But in Auckland, where the lanes are all on arterial routes into the CBD, taxi drivers are banned from bus lanes.
The federation is preparing a case to take to Auckland City Council ahead of talks next week.
Under new transport legislation - the Land Transport Management Act - taxis are classified as "public transport" for the first time.
John Bryant, Auckland president of the Taxi Federation, says this means they should be given the same rights as other public transport providers. "Why should Stagecoach and bus operators get the benefits for providing essentially the same service as us?" he said.
The federation's biggest arguments are the number of disabled children taxis take to school, and the number of business people driven to the CBD, particularly from the airport.
"Why should these people suffer and have to be late when they have no choice but to get a taxi? Buses are not an option for many people," said Mr Bryant.
He estimated up to 800 disabled children were carried by cabs in Auckland each day. Meanwhile, the journey from the airport could be 20 minutes longer and $15 more expensive in bad traffic.
"We are basically not allowed to provide a reasonable level of service to customers," added Mr Bryant.
But Auckland City Council said last night it would be unlikely to agree to the cabbies' claims.
Bus lanes were not "public transport lanes", but "passenger transport lanes" said transport committee chairman Greg McKeown.
Only vehicles with 13 seats, including the driver, could use the lanes.
"Clearly a taxi driver carrying one passenger and using a bus lane is not actually making a great contribution to passenger transport service," said Mr McKeown.
The council would be willing to look at whether the 13-seat by-law was the correct number