The government should relaunch Local Area Hackney Scheme
Labour Transport Spokesperson Senator Kevin Humphreys has called on Minister Ross to reinvigorate and expand the ‘Local Area Hackney’ or ‘Rural Hackney’ license scheme, and expressed concerns about the back of the envelope plan proposed by Minister Daly which opens the door to Uber as a public transport service model in Ireland.
Senator Humphreys said:
“While finding more creative ways of providing public transport solutions in smaller towns and rural areas is important, Minister Daly’s ‘Ruxi’ recommendation to the Minister for Transport sounds more like a back of the envelope exercise than a plan that is ready to be implemented.
“Rural Ireland needs solutions now, and there is a model available that can be reinvigorated with political will.
“In 2013, Alan Kelly as Minister of State for Transport introduced new regulations which created the ‘Local Area Hackney’ license. These regulations allow the National Transport Authority to grant hackney licenses for isolated rural areas at a low cost of approximately €50 in the case of the vehicle license.
“This Fine Gael government has failed to promote, resource and expand this scheme, once again letting down rural Ireland.
“Expanding the number of these licenses could be a better solution to the taxi issue in rural Ireland. Connecting that service to customers through the Transport for Ireland app is needed to ensure the public know about it.
“A public promotion campaign encouraging people to apply, backed with support for local authorities and communities to promote the service could immediately be progressed.
“The plan proposed by Minister Daly opens the door to the ‘Uber’ taxi model in Ireland.
“Once we allow this model to be introduced in rural areas, there will be demand for it to be available across Ireland and would hugely undermine the livelihoods and employment conditions of taxi men and women who are properly regulated.
“Taxies should be regulated, safe and widely available. The Minster should work to deliver more taxi’s and hackneys. The proposal to Minister Ross and the NTA sounds like it is a long time from implementation.”