New taxi rules will clean up industry and drive out rogues says MEP
By Declan Varley
The announcement yesterday of new rules for the taxi industry in Ireland will lead to more professionalism, will drive out rogue operators and will clean up the industry, according to MEP Jim Higgins.
New branding, developed by the National Transport Authority, will see semi-permanent ‘taxi' signage affixed to the driver and passenger doors of each car. The move is intended to encourage greater professionalism and accountability within the taxi sector.
Speaking in Brussels last night, Jim Higgins said "New York has yellow taxis, London has the famous black cabs. These approaches would be far too expensive for Irish taxi drivers but to ensure the people who operate in the sector are accountable for their vehicles, the government has chosen semi-permanent branding for taxis.It will make it harder for rogue drivers to continue operating in the sector."
The branding will contain the individual vehicle licence number associated with a particular vehicle, and it will also carry the 'Transport for Ireland' logo, further aligning taxis with other public transport services.
The move follows a review of the taxi sector by the Government earlier this year. The National Transport Authority, in consultation with the Taxi Advisory Committee and sector representatives, developed the branding.
The branding will be phased in from January whereby taxi vehicles will need to be fitted with the official signage in order to renew the vehicle licence. The NTA will now initiate a process of licensing official suppliers to carry out this work.
"It is important that the taxi industry is cleaned up, and that rogue operators are driven out" concluded the Fine Gael MEP.
The reforms include a ban on the transfer or sale of taxi licences; a limit of nine years on the age of vehicles; new national branding for taxis; prohibition of “plate only” rental; a reduction of the period taxi licences can be inactive and a ban on the use of “crew cab” vehicles.
The new branding will be a semi-permanent green-and-white strip that all taxis will be required to display on their doors. The requirement, designed to reassure customers of national standards, is also aimed at making it more difficult for rogue operators to duplicate taxis. In a step aimed at eliminating criminality in the industry, Minister of State for Public and Commuter Transport Alan Kelly outlined the creation of a live database that will link taxi drivers to on-street vehicles via smartphones.
This element will ensure the correct driver is in the vehicle they are licensed to drive.
Also from January, taxi licences will no longer be allowed to be sold or transferred to another individual. This move has upset some taxi drivers who claim they should be allowed to sell their licence on retirement.From January only “full package rentals” will be allowed. This means the person providing the rental must own the licence and the vehicle.
That person will also be required to provide insurance for the vehicle for the rental period.
In a further bid to streamline regulations surrounding the licence, vehicle and driver, the owner of the licence must be the registered owner of the vehicle.