Driving tests

Getting a P endorsement and passenger services licence

From October 1, 2017, passing a P endorsement course is no longer required to drive a passenger service vehicle (i.e. a vehicle that takes paying passengers e.g. taxi, bus, coach, etc). Course providers must not issue any P endorsement certificates after October 1.

You are still required to hold a P endorsement, though. Drivers must have held a full New Zealand driver’s licence for at least two years before they can be granted a P endorsement.

No further driving test is required to get the P endorsement (previously a driver was required to re-sit a full licence test if it was more than 5 years after they had passed their last licence test).

Licences

Passenger Service Licences (PSL) will be revoked on October 1 and replaced with either a Small Passenger Service Licence (SPSL) or a Large Passenger Service Licence (LPSL) or both. LPSL deals with passenger vehicles with 13 or more seats, including the driver).

Current PSL holders will be issued with both SPSL and LPSL at no cost.

Companies that don’t have a current PSL will need to apply for an LPSL.

Do taxi drivers need to have P endorsements?

Yes. They will also need to undergo a fit and proper person test. Cameras will be required in taxis, but not in application-based services such as Uber because the journey is tracked the whole way.

Taxi drivers tend to have more comprehensive training in customer service because they operate as part of a larger business that has risks under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. They have had to pass an English language and area knowledge test, although these will no longer be a requirement from October 1, 2017.

Potential benefits

As most bus companies have their own internal training programs, particularly if they are also doing school bus routes and SESTA, removing the P endorsement course may not have a significant effect on the level of training those drivers receive.

It lowers the barrier to entry to make it easier to employ drivers.

It lowers the cost to companies by around 60%.

Potential downsides

Removing training is contrary to Worksafe’s mandate of reducing risk. A vehicle is a place of work (as defined in the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015) and passengers are visitors to a workplace. A driver can now become a passenger driver without fully understanding the risks, potentially increasing the risk of accidents.

Drivers of application-based services like Uber do not need to be vetted as a fit and proper person.

It removes a source of income from training companies.

Do you need a passenger licence or P endorsement to hire a minivan or small bus?

If you are transporting your friends or relatives, your band or sports team, you do not need a P endorsement, SPSL or LPSL if the passengers are not paying a fare for the journey. You will need to hold the correct class of licence to drive the vehicle, though.

Can you carpool without a passenger licence?

Carpooling is allowed without a passenger licence, as are a number of exempt services such as charities, district health boards, and home or community support services.

driver training

Darren is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the NZ Motoring Writers' Guild

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