Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, to urgently implement the recommendations of the National Transport Authority (NTA) with respect to the provision and support of rural taxi services. Deputy McGrath was speaking after being contacted by a long time local taxi driver who wished to offer a rural based service only to find that the cost of insurance would be over €4000:
“The NTA have made it explicitly clear to Minister Ross, that the current local area hackney model needs to change in order to address the significant barriers that currently exist to the provision of these much needed rural services. A significant part of this is the cost of insurance which can rise to €8000 in some cases.
We know that The 2012 Taxi Regulation Review Report recommended the introduction of a local area hackney licence to address transport deficits that would not otherwise be addressed in certain rural areas.
We also know that although Regulations permitting the issue of these licences were introduced in December 2013, there has been very low take up.
That is large part down to the cost of insurance-but it is also because other aspects of the system need to change.
According to The NTA the Minister could take three simple actions that would require no changes to existing legislation but which would dramatically improve the rural taxi network.
First, Minister Ross must simplify the administration involved in the Local Area Hackney application process.
Second; the Minister could Pilot a small number of hackney services that will receive grant-aid in areas that have no hackney or taxi service operating currently; and lastly he could Pilot a small number of community transport services that will receive grant-aid in areas that have no hackney or taxi service operating currently.
I am therefore calling on Minister Ross to explain why he is delaying the introduction of these measures which would go a long toward addressing rural isolation,” concluded Deputy McGrath.