Illegal part timers damage Naas taxi trade

PART time operators, allegedly claiming social welfare payments at the same time, pose the biggest threat to the livelihoods of full time taxi drivers in Naas.

PART time operators, allegedly claiming social welfare payments at the same time, pose the biggest threat to the livelihoods of full time taxi drivers in Naas.

Naas-based Ollie McCormack (M7 Taxis) said part time drivers are renting plates without the knowledge of the authorities and come into Naas to take the weekend trade away from the local taxis.

“People are renting plates and the Department of Social Welfare or Revenue don’t know. As soon as social welfare staff to do a check in Naas there is a clear out of the town. We cannot compete with these people,” added Mr McCormack.

He told the Leader that those renting out the plates to the drivers also have a responsibility.

Mr McCormack also criticised a proposal banning the sale of plates from next September.

“This is like telling somebody they cannot sell their business,” he said.

Public and Commuter Transport Minister, Alan Kelly, has published the Government’s report into the future of the taxi sector and it contains over 40 actions to address deficiencies in taxi regulation as part a review.

These include robust new regulations governing the renting out of plates within the industry.

“The powers of the gardai will be extended with strengthened collaboration with the National Transport Authority for more effective on-street enforcement. We will also be tightening up on the rental sector, removing criminal elements and creating a much more robust system of regulation,” he said.

The broad aim of this report is to increase consumer confidence in the sector and eliminate the rogue elements. “We also want to ensure that legitimate and professional taxi operators and drivers can be rewarded fairly by operating under a regulatory regime that is adequately enforced.”

Only plate owners will be allowed to rent plates and the owners will be responsible for insurance and metering.

It’s also planned to suspend licences for specific breaches of regulations and have a graduated system of fixed fines as opposed to a single €250 fine for all offences

For consumers a smartphone app will allow consumers check if their driver is licensed and operating within the regulations; semi permanent branding on taxis for greater professionalism and accountability and drivers may have to re-sit knowledge tests if more than three valid complaints are made against them.

Social Welfare and Revenue checks will continue for drivers and vehicle owners and the National Transport Authority will issue licences. According to the review there is an oversupply of taxis to the tune of 13-22%.

- Paul O’Meara