HARD-PRESSED cabbies in Swords are blaming the introduction of a “hidden” taxi rank for a substantial loss of earnings.
Taxi drivers have told how it’s become increasingly difficult to earn a crust in the town since the rank was introduced last year.
The rank is located off the Main Street around the corner from The Star pub and Fingal County Hall.
Driver Jason Stanley is among those who cited the “hidden” taxi rank as a major factor in their loss of earnings.
“Naturally our business has been hit hard in the recession but we’ve been dealt an even bigger blow with the introduction of the taxi rank,” Mr Stanley told Northside People.
“Our problem is that the rank is hidden from view and people don’t know it exists, let alone where it’s located because of a lack of signage.
“We used to be able to get business on the Main Street but not anymore. And if we are caught parked up during the night on the Main Street, the gardai move us on or give us tickets.
“I’ve often sat at the rank for three hours waiting for business.”
Mr Stanley estimated that he has lost over e150 a week in earnings since the taxi rank was introduced.
“It’s very frustrating to be confined to this rank which is hidden from view off the main thoroughfare,” he added.
Over 50 taxi drivers are affected by the situation.
Fellow cabbie Paul Jack, who has been a taxi driver in Swords for the last 10 years, said the situation is exacerbated at the weekends when members of the public park their cars unknowingly on the rank.
“Private cars often park on the rank, especially on Sundays when there’s mass on or families have their dinners out at the local pubs and restaurants,” he stated.
“This just goes to show how little people realise that the rank is located where it is.
“Business has really suffered and that can’t all be blamed on the introduction and location of the taxi rank but it certainly hasn’t helped our trade.
“It’s becoming more and more difficult to make a living.”
A spokeswoman for Fingal County Council said the move to introduce a taxi rank was prompted by “serious concerns” raised in relation to the manner in which taxis were parking and waiting on Swords Main Street which was “very often on footpaths and at vehicular entrances”.
“These practices were creating dangers and hazards for road users, particularly vulnerable pedestrians such as the disabled, the elderly and children,” she told Northside People.
“The council’s traffic section, in consultation with the gardai, identified a proposed location for a regulated taxi rank in the town, along Chapel Street to the side of County Hall.
“The proposal was advertised in the local press and a public consultation process was initiated by the council.
“Full details of the proposal were hand delivered to the taxi company operating from Main Street.
“No submissions or objections were received and members of Fingal County Council approved the taxi rank in June last year.”
According to the spokeswoman, the gardai recently advised the council that accessibility and pedestrian safety on Main Street has improved noticeably since the rank was introduced.
“In response to the issues raised by the taxi drivers, consideration will now be given to the erection of signage to indicate the location of the new taxi rank,” she added.