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Taxi industry in crisis, government response insufficient – Reilly

23 January, 2013

Speaking regarding new legislation on the future regulation of the taxi industry, Sinn Féin Senator Kathryn Reilly has said that the taxi industry is in crisis and that the Government response is “insufficient”.

Senator Reilly said:

“The taxi industry is in crisis. Across the state taxi drivers and their families are facing an increasingly bleak future. Oversupply of licences, poor regulation, poor application of existing regulations and a dramatic loss of trade have pushed hundreds of taxi drivers out of business and thousands more into real financial hardship.

“While many of the problems in the industry were created by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour have been slow to act. They have been slow to improve the application of the existing regulatory framework. They have been slow to bring forward this legislation.

“While some elements of the Bill tabled in the Oireachtas this week are positive, the Government clearly does not fully understand the extent of the crisis in the industry or the weaknesses in the existing regulatory regime.

“This is hardly surprising given that the current administration has yet to really engage with the industry as a whole. Just like their predecessors, there has not been sufficient dialogue with the various representative bodies or with individual drivers.

“Since deregulation the number of licenses has increased seven-fold. There are simply too many taxis on our roads, too many multi-license holders and too many part-time drivers. This situation has been compounded by an inadequate vetting system.

“Sinn Féin has argued that the Taxi Regulations Directorate must be held to account through a Dáil Committee and bi-annual reviews.

“There is also a need for improved vetting; a minimum hours requirement for drivers; and greater regulation of the rental market to ensure the best service and safety for taxi users, as well as allowing full-time drivers to make a decent living.

“Sinn Féin wants to see the taxi industry recover, to provide the best quality of service to customers and to provide stable and well paid employment to drivers. The Taxi Regulation Bill goes some way towards that, but a lot more work needs to be done by government if it is to achieve these aims.”

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