27 Apr 2017

Uber driver upset at backlash to long-haul trip between cities

From Checkpoint, 5:23 pm on 27 April 2017

An Uber driver who took an American couple from Auckland to Wellington says it is unfair he could be punished for his good deed.

The tourists needed to get to an important meeting, after all other transport was stopped by Cyclone Debbie.

Harpal Kang drove through the night, and said he did it because he felt sorry for the couple.

But the NZ Transport Agency is now investigating the trip because commercial drivers are only legally allowed to drive for 13 hours a day.

Mr Kang told Checkpoint with John Campbell he had five hours of his shift to go, took breaks along the way and slept for two hours in Wellington before driving back to Auckland - making it a 16-hour round trip.

He said he was confident he drove safely, and he feared the trip could lead to him losing his license, being fined or leaving his home of six years.

Taxi Federation executive director John Hart said Uber had a responsibility not to allow a driver to work beyond the legal requirements.

The Transport Agency said it was unacceptable for drivers to exceed permitted working hours or fail to take required breaks.

It said the punishment could range from a written warning through to revocation of the driver's passenger endorsement, as well as a formal complaint on the driver's file.