UNDER pressure local taxi drivers have submitted a report on the industry to the Oireachtas Transport Committee warning that jobs may be lost unless their concerns are addressed.
Santry based Tiomanai Tacsai na hEireann (TTnH) are arguing that a number of issues in their submission are yet to be dealt with and proposals from the Department of Transport Taxi Review are due to be put in place from January.
Northside taxi driver David McGuinness believes oversupply within the taxi industry is one of the main bones of contention.
He said full-time drivers are faced with increased competition in the capital due to some part-time taxi drivers working two jobs.
He said this has resulted in full-time drivers losing out in terms of income.
According to Mr McGuinness, a recent Indecon report states that the industry is between 13 to 23 per cent oversupplied and this issue is yet to be addressed. Drivers are also concerned over the nine-year rule that forces older taxis to undergo stringent tests.
“If there was an industry whereby full-time taxi drivers earned reasonable incomes on foot of the hours they work, our organisation would have no difficulty negotiating with the NTA or anyone else in respect of vehicle standards and vehicle age,” he said.
He added that while some of the recommendations outlined by the Taxi Review Report, due to be implemented in January 2013, are favourable, there are still a number of concerns for drivers who hold single plate licences.
And many taxi drivers are also under severe financial pressure, according to Mr McGuinness.
“At present there is limited availability of credit from credit unions and banking institutions and people whose sole income comes from full-time taxi driving have no access to credit at all,” he said.
“Full-time taxi drivers are rated as being high risk by all banking and financial institutions. As a result, full-time taxi drivers are faced with a situation whereby they can either go on the dole - and thereby cost the State money - or enter the taxi rental market.”
Mr McGuinness explained that due to the lack of access to credit, some drivers can’t afford to replace their vehicles. However, he argues that if the issue of oversupply is dealt with, then the problem may be tackled.
Responding to his organisation’s suggestion that public service licences should only be made available to permanent Irish residents under EU rules, Mr McGuinness said in other countries there is a restriction that prohibits drivers from applying for the licence unless they have been resident in a particular country for a number of years.
“Why should Ireland be any different, particularly as France, Denmark or Spain are not viewed as breaking EU laws in this regard?” he asked.
“There is also a health and safety issue involved. There should be a much higher standard required for entry into the industry. If people are allowed to enter and leave the jurisdiction willy-nilly, public safety must become an issue.”
TTnH will ballot their 18,000 members in the coming weeks to formulate their views on taxi fare increases. The organisation has so far indicated that it is not in favour of an increase.
A spokesperson for the National Transport Committee said a date for the public consultation process regarding fare increases is yet to be announced.
The spokesperson stated that it would write to Transport Minister Leo Varadkar and enclose a copy of TTnH’s submission.