Transport Committee warned 5,000 taxi drivers could be forced out of industry - Darren O’Rourke TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD, has again called on Minister Eamon Ryan and the NTA to engage with taxi representatives to address the serious challenges facing the sector.
His comments came as the Oireachtas Transport Committee heard that over 5,000 drivers are facing hardship and the possibility of being forced out of the industry in the next 12 months.
The Meath East TD said:
“This afternoon we heard a stark warning from taxi representatives that over 5,000 drivers could be forced out of the industry due to a lack of support from the government.
“We are already facing a severe shortage of taxis across the state, so we cannot afford to let this problem escalate further.
“The lack of taxis is having a knock-on impact on the hospitality, event and nightlife sectors, so it needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
“One of the key issues facing drivers is the ‘10-year rule’ and I have called on the Minister repeatedly to extend this timeframe.
“This rule is forcing drivers to replace their vehicle, even if it is in perfect condition.
“A significant number of drivers cannot afford to currently do this, after two years of poor business due to the pandemic and given the huge jump in the cost of used cars. Similarly, they cannot secure electric vehicles, despite grant support, due to supply chain constraints.
“As a result, drivers are deciding to exit the industry entirely. Close to 4,000 drivers face this cliff-edge in 2023.
“If the rule was relaxed, for a period of five years for example, vehicles would still need to pass the NCT and suitability tests, meaning there will be no compromise on safety, so it is a common sense move to extend the ten-year rule to try and stop the haemorrhaging of drivers from the sector.
“Taxi drivers feel abandoned by this government, and Fine Gael’s promotion of ride-sharing apps, which would undercut thousands of drivers, has added to their serious concerns.
“The government should be taking action to fix problems facing the taxi sector, working to make it a viable career for more people, and not seeking to deregulate the sector and start a race to the bottom when it comes to terms and conditions.
“The Minister and the NTA need to introduce an immediate extension to the 10-year rule, to give drivers breathing space and help retain as many drivers in the sector as possible.”