RURAL HACKNEY LICENCES will be given out at a cost of €50 per vehicle to help people living in rural areas with problems of isolation.
Regulations passed by the National Transport Authority will see Local Area Hackney Licences introduced to facilitate low-cost entry into the taxi sector.
The scheme is open from today on a pilot basis on the request of junior minister Alan Kelly following a government review of taxi regulation.
Prior to the change in rules, hackney licences were only given to wheelchair accessible vehicles.
Kelly said it is crucial to come up with “creative solutions” to improve transport connections in rural areas.
“Access to transport is a major problem in rural Ireland and we needed to think creatively about how to solve it.
“We are all only too well area aware of many isolated people in rural communities that are unable to access their local services,” he added. “The taxi regulation system has not been designed for isolated areas of rural Ireland and this is a way it may do so.”
“What I hope is that the rural transport groups, working with the local authorities, will be able to identify the area’s most in need of access to transport and licenses can be granted on that basis. It will be done on a pilot basis initially. The aim is to provide people with social mobility and give people a way of accessing shops, health services and local events.”
Applicants will be required to have sanction from a local business or community group. They will also need to demonstrate that their area has a deficit of public transport and taxi services.