Cameras installed as Beach Street becomes taxi rank for unauthorised cabs

by Lauren Pattemore - Feb 09, 2024

Council has installed CCTV cameras to monitor Beach Street as complaints come in about one taxi company using the shared zone as their unofficial taxi rank.

While vehicles can use the newly paved road, they shouldn't be parked up for long, but that isn't stopping a near-constant row of taxis sitting and waiting for their next passengers in the afternoon and evening.

Beach Street business owner Paiwan Boonchuen of Thaitavee Therapeutic Massager says the sitting cabs can stop people from seeing her business and are stopping customers coming in.

Queenstown Taxi's director Simon Morahanah says his company has been repeatedly asking the council in the last few months about regulating taxi parking on Beach Street.

Mr Morahanah says his company has paid the required $500 per vehicle that permits them to park in the council's designated taxi stands in Queenstown.

He says he is "glad" that the CCTV cameras are going to now monitor what he calls "scab cabs". 

"Beach Street is not a taxi stand; you can't sit and park there."

Mr Morahanah says there isn't enough space to accommodate this many taxis in Queenstown.

A spokesperson for the Queenstown Lakes District Council has confirmed to Crux the newly installed CCTV cameras will help the council monitor the public space and ensure "a good level of compliance" with rules.

They say with visitor numbers on the rise the CBD is "under constant pressure each day".

A years-long upgrade of CBD streets has seen Beach Street, and adjacent Rees Street, redesigned to be more pedestrian-focused, and neither street now has any designated spots for vehicles to park.

"They do allow for temporary loading and unloading of goods and passengers in the same way as regular loading zones," the spokesperson says.

"It's important we keep things flowing in these areas so everyone can use them."

CCTV cameras have been installed on Beach Street's gold poles.

Otago Cabs is the company at the centre of many of the community complaints.

Manager Gurpreet Singh says the company uses Beach Street because its cabs do not have permits to park in the council's designated taxi ranks.

Mr Singh says the company did apply for the appropriate permits last June, but was denied them.

He says he was informed the council had run out of permits. 

Mr Singh maintains Otago Cabs cabs only park on Beach Street from 6pm until midnight. However, another business owner spoken to by Crux says the cars often start parking there from 4pm and can stay "all night".   

Council introduced stronger regulation of taxis in 2019, including a requirement that taxis apply for a Small Passenger Service Vehicle Rank Permit to park in designated taxi spots in the CBD and at the airport.

Applications for the annual permit open every year in June and are handed out at the cost of $500 per vehicle. Crux understands the council has 150 permits to give out.

Main image: A young child squeezes between taxis lined up on Beach Street on Thursday, February 8, 2024.

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