Local taxi drivers have slammed the government’s plans for new taxi branding signage as another money-generating stunt.
Last week, Junior Transport Minister Alan Kelly welcomed the move, developed by the National Transport Authority, which will see semi-permanent taxi stickers applied to the front doors of all taxi cars.
It’s intended to be a cut-price version of New York’s yellow taxis, or London’s black cabs, aimed at preventing licences being switched between different cars. It has been estimated the cost for the signs will be between r150 and r250.
Longford taxi driver Paddy Boyle described the news as “another gimmick for money.” While Minister Kelly said the change will “make it harder for rogue drivers to continue operating in the sector,” Paddy doesn’t believe it will make any difference.
“This will not stop illegal drivers from operating, not a hope. Everything that has come out has been targeted at taxi drivers, but there has been nothing to target the hackney industry, which have no markings on their car apart from a little plate.
“At the present time, it’s hard to make a living. There are days where you wouldn’t get r20. The cost of everything associated with running a taxi has gone up and this is just another blow to the ordinary taxi driver.”
Larger taxi firms have echoed such concerns, with Nevin’s, which operate ten taxis, saying the cost of applying the semi-permanent stickers to their fleet could run into the thousands.
“At the moment we already have the local area stickers on the front and back windows that cost €20; there’s tamper proof discs and the official ID with the name of the driver – I really don’t think this will make any difference for greater accountability or professionalism,” Paul Nevin told the Leader.
Paul also raised the concern that taxi drivers who also use their taxis as private cars during their time-off could be potentially targeted by thieves.
“As it is, you can take off the plate and the taxi reverts back into a normal car and off you go. These new stickers would make taxis a sitting target for thieves who might see it parked up somewhere and think that there’s petty cash, or a meter they could steal inside,” he said.
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.
The move will follow a new Taxi Regulation Act which the Minister intends to publish before the end of the year as part of the taxi sector review. A number of actions from the taxi review report are set to be implemented in January by the National Transport Authority, including a new online system that will link the driver with the vehicle they are using, allowing passengers to check the appropriate driver is in the vehicle.