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Taxis face licensing crackdown in 'radical' reform plan

A long-awaited Government review of the industry aims to “eliminate the rogue elements”, Minister Alan Kelly has said.

Image: James Horan/Photocall Ireland

THE GOVERNMENT HAS announced detailed plans to reform the taxi industry, including a crackdown on renting out licenses and part-time drivers.

Minister for public transport Alan Kelly said the measures constituted “the most radical examination of the taxi sector in Ireland ever”.

Under the proposals, it will no longer be possible to for the owner of a taxi license to hire it out to others for use on their own car. Licenses will be ‘tethered’ to vehicles and insurance, and the owner will have responsibility for their operation at all times.

The review was announced in the wake of a Prime Time programme which showed owners of multiple taxi licenses putting them out for hire. It also exposed an individual who worked 17-hour days as both a bus and taxi driver, raising fears for his passengers’ safety.

The report details plans to reduce double-jobbing among taxi drivers by forcing part-time drivers to declare their taxi license to their primary employer.

Minister Kelly said the review was designed “to increase consumer confidence in the sector and eliminate the rogue elements,” as well ensuring that legitimate drivers are “rewarded fairly.” He added:  “We want it to be a sector worth working in again.”

Demand for taxis plummeted by 33.4 per cent between 2008 and 2011, the review found.

Other key measures include:

  • Legislation to provide for the “mandatory disqualification” from the taxi industry of anyone convicted of serious criminal offences.
  • A smartphone app to allow customers to check whether their taxi and driver are properly licensed.
  • A system by which drivers could be made to re-sit ‘knowledge’ tests if three complaints are received against them.
  • Freezing the transfer of taxi licenses, so they cannot be sold on.
  • Measures to allow gardaí to issue fixed-penalty charges for small infringements, without going to court.
  • Changing the design and form of roof signs, to restrict their availability.

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Michael Freeman

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