Ten full and three part time taxi drivers in Kildare town are facing hard times after their taxi rank was replaced by paid parking spaces.
The taxi drivers are now faced with having nowhere to park up and wait for customers.
The rank ran along the side of corner of the town’s historic square from Boyle pub up to the Bank of Ireland.
It was changed into a paid-parking zone in order to compensate for three such spaces that were lost on the other side of the street when a bus parking spot was created.
Eyewitnesses say it was removed late last Thursday night, August 9.
Off-street fairs account for 85% of the business of at least one of the drivers, Noel Carroll who rang the Leinster Leader to highlight their plight.
“That rank has been there since 2008,” he explained. “I had been driving a hackney up to that point and I took the opportunity to become my own boss. I went to the bank and borrowed money to get my own plate and set myself up.
“Now, I’m faced with the possibility of not being able to service that loan,” he said.
“In Kildare town you have 10 full time drivers, three part-time lads and three or four from elsewhere who come into the town.”
“I’d say that all of them have mortgages.”
Noel said that much of his traffic is bringing people from outside the urban area of Kildare town currently not served by public transport, “especially on market day”.He added that he frequently brought people to and from areas such as Nurney, Booleigh, Kildangan and Rathangan where there is no public transport to Kildare town.
He also felt that there was a lack of notification to locals of the changes.
Another concern for Noel is that it is illegal for a taxi driver to park and offer their services from a space that is not a taxi rank.
This is a regulation that is enforced keenly by the Taxi Regulator’s office, so having no rank the in town is putting taxi drivers at risk of prosecution.
Local councillor Suzanne Doyle said she understood that there are plans to install a taxi rank elsewhere, and possibly enable some normal parking spaces to become taxi ranks from 6pm to 6am, the hours when most of taxi business is done.
Responding to this possibility, Mr. Carroll said he welcomed it as a move in the right direction. However, he said he was keen that the rank be placed as close to, if not in, the town centre as possible.
He proposed that the three paid-parking spaces that had been created instead of the taxi rank should revert back to being a rank at night time.
And he called for that to be well advertised.
- Conor McHugh