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Dublin: 6°C Thursday 26 November 2020

Are taxi drivers at greater risk of being robbed? We asked some to find out

One Sinn Féin TD thinks taxi signs get attention from “undesirables”.

A SINN FÉIN TD has criticised the fact taxi drivers have to display decals on the side of their cars, saying the signs act as a magnet for thieves.

Dessie Ellis raised the issue with Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe in the Dáil recently.

New Taxi Signs Taxi decal Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Rules introduced in 2013 mean that drivers run the risk of being fined if they don’t have decals on the side of their car.

Ellis said the signs were “hailed as a security measure to stamp out rogue taxis operating without a proper licence and to give confidence to passengers, but they have done neither”.

Source: Dessie Ellis/YouTube

“It is important that prospective customers can tell that a car driving by is a taxi for hire, but a taxi driver cannot now use their car in any private circumstance without people assuming that they are plying for hire,” Ellis said.

“In the past, taxi drivers were able to remove their signage and place it in the boot or elsewhere and drive their car on their day off or on holidays as a private car. They were able to park up in towns or at their home and not be seen from a distance to be a taxi. To some, this might not seem important but for those who make their living as a taxi driver it is crucial for safety and comfort,” the Dublin North–West TD told the Dáil.

Donohoe said taxi regulations are a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA), noting: “As such I have no function in this matter.”

The minister pointed out that the taxi signage riles make it “more difficult for vehicles to operate illegally as taxis.”

“As the door signage is semi-permanent, the vehicle is still identifiable as a purported taxi even when the roof sign is removed, which was not the case previously,” he said.

A spokesperson for the NTA said the authority “has no records to substantiate crime arising from taxi identification by prescribed branding or tamper proof discs”.

Taxi drivers

David McGuinness of Tiomanaí Tacsaí na hÉireann (TTnH) said the group brought the issue to the attention of then junior transport minister Alan Kelly about a year ago.

McGuinness said there has been “a huge increase” in taxi break-ins recently. He said this isn’t entirely down to decals, but claimed they have played a role as “our cars now are identifiable”.

He said TTnH has urged its 2,500 or so members to not leave valuables or a float in the car where possible.

New Taxi Signs Then junior transport minister Alan Kelly when the new signage rules were unveiled in 2013. Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

TheJournal.ie stopped by the taxi rank at Stephen’s Green in Dublin city centre to find out what drivers think.

Shane Lennon told us he only got his taxi back a few days ago, after it was stolen from outside his house last month.

Enough said … It was taken because it is a taxi and it is easily-identifiable as a taxi. The meter was ripped out, the decals were ripped off, they put in a new ignition. Bits and bobs, you know.

Lennon, who has been working as a taxi driver for six years, said he doesn’t believe his car would have been stolen if it wasn’t clear it was a taxi.

“The guards were absolutely brilliant, I have to say, from start to finish,” he noted.

Lennon said his roof sign was stolen a few months ago, so he doesn’t leave it on at night anymore.

“It’s just one of those things. There are scumbags out robbing houses as well, they shouldn’t be doing that either.”

taxi 2 pixel Source: Photocall Ireland

Karl Dowling, who has worked as a driver since 2003, said decals were meant to stop people from double-jobbing, but he claims they have failed in this regard.

The idea of the thing in the first place was to cut out all the double-jobbers, I don’t see that’s working.

He added that it costs about €80 to put on a decal and it “devalues the car”.

Another driver, who didn’t want to be named, said a friend of his was targetted by a gang of thieves at his house last week. He said a group of men tried to break into his friend’s taxi but ran off when he called the gardaí.

He too thinks taxis are more of a target than other cars.

Read: 7 essential stock phrases to deploy with any Irish taxi driver

Read: Traffic gridlock expected as taxi drivers protest in Dublin city centre

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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